Old Penguin books printing factory turned into £45m housing development

Abigail Fenton
·Writer
·3 min read
The Old Printworkers, formerly the site of Butler, Tanner & Dennis, in Frome, Somerset. (Acorn Property Group)
The Old Printworkers, formerly the site of Butler, Tanner & Dennis, in Frome, Somerset. Photo: Acorn Property Group

The former site of Penguin books printer Butler, Tanner & Dennis has been turned into a £45m ($58m) housing development.

Butler, Tanner & Dennis — Butler & Tanner at the time — moved to the site in Frome, Somerset in 1907, printed one of the first Penguin books in 1935, and operated for over 165 years before going into administration in 2014.

Notable books printed by Butler, Tanner & Dennis — working with Penguin — include the third impressions printed of Ariel by Andre Maurois, a biography of poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Madame Claire by Susan Ertz, as well as The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie, Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway and an edition of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by CS Lewis.

Butler, Tanner & Dennis, formerly located on the site, ran for 165 years. (Acorn Property Group)
Butler, Tanner & Dennis, formerly located on the site, ran for 165 years. Photo: Acorn Property Group

Now, its former site, just 30 minutes from Bath, is known as The Old Printworks — a 157-home housing project, where the first few properties are already up for sale and experiencing “a high level of buyer enquiries,” according to developers Acorn Property Group.

The development, scheduled to be completed by winter, will contain a mix of two-, three-, and four-bedroom open-plan houses, as well as a two-bedroom coach house. Each property will have large windows for natural light, contemporary kitchens by Stormer, “fully-integrated” appliances, Caesarstone worktops and “sleek” bathrooms with porcelain floors and wall tiling, the company said.

(Acorn Property Group)
How the homes will look. Photo: Acorn Property Group

The architecture is inspired by the site’s history, “with the brick façades matching the local stone,” the developers said.

Buyers who seal the deal early will be able to customise aspects of their new home — such as the kitchen units and tile colour — though this is subject to construction phase.

Each home has lrge windows for natural light. (Acorn Property Group)
Each home has large windows for natural light. Photo: Acorn Property Group

The Old Printworks was “designed with sustainability in mind,” using timber frame construction and eco stock bricks, with triple glazing for insulation, energy saving appliances and lighting, and sustainable urban drainage systems, Acorn said.

Outside, the 11.3-acre site off Caxton Road, along the banks of the River Frome, boasts over 1.5 acres of green open space, as well as a children’s play area for residents, and a new footpath down to the riverbanks.

The Old Printworks, formely the site of Butler, Tanner & Dennis, in Frome, Somerset. (Acorn Property Group)
The site has a private children's play area. Photo: Acorn Property Group

Robin Squire, regional managing director of Acorn’s Bristol office, said: “The Old Printworks is the transformation of [the former site of] renowned printers Butler, Tanner and Dennis. We are delighted to be breathing new life into this site, delivering bespoke high-quality homes, which will provide a unique addition to Frome, for a new community to enjoy.”

The first homes at The Old Printworks are now available, with prices starting at £275,000 for a two-bedroom coach house, £305,000 for a three-bedroom semi-detached house, and £400,000 for a four-bedroom townhouse.