Secure printing and
distribution of high-stakes examinations
and electoral materials.
Established in 1768, Stephen Austin is one of the United Kingdom’s oldest printing companies.
Based near London, we are a leading specialist in the secure printing and distribution of high-stakes examination and electoral materials for governments worldwide.
We protect the security and integrity of our clients’ data and documents by delivering a service of the highest international standards in terms of quality, security, accuracy and reliability.
Above all, we deliver peace of mind to all of our clients, who trust the team at Stephen Austin to fulfil every brief with precision and dedication.
a good year for endeavour!
Captain Cook set sail in HMS Endeavour for his first voyage to the South Seas – and Stephen Austin established his printing business in Hertford.
a first for the county
Stephen Austin’s newspaper, the Hartford Mercury, was the first to be published in Hertfordshire.
a new owner after Waterloo
Stephen Austin died in 1818 – three years after the Battle of Waterloo – and was succeeded by his oldest son, Stephen Austin II
Stephen Austin III
When their father could not make the business pay, Stephen Austin III and his brother John took it over – both sang in the Hertford Glee Society.
an important book
Stephen Austin III’s first book was Lewis Turnor’s History of the Ancient Town and Borough of Hertford –accompanied by a set of prints.
The family had been printing electoral material since 1790 – that above was the result of the Hertfordshire County poll in the 1832 Reform Bill election
a Liberal newspaper
In 1834 Stephen Austin launched The Reformer, a paper supporting the Liberal Party, which was immediately lampooned by its Tory rival.
In 1836, Stephen Austin moved to new premises next to their printing works in Fore Street, Hertford – as illustrated on their letter head.
first exam paper
In 1842 Stephen Austin printed this Persian examination paper for the East India College.
The Lost Ring
In 1855, Stephen Austin produced his most lavish volume of the Oriental classics – Sakoontala or The Lost Ring, translated from the Sanskrit by Professor Monier-Williams.
a clutch of medals
In 1855 Stephen Austin received a silver medal at the Exposition Universelle in Paris and gold medals from the Empress Eugenie and Queen Victoria.
founding Haileybury College
Stephen Austin had been associated with the East India College since boyhood. When it closed he was a leading member of the group which set up the public school in William Wilkins’s classical buildings at Hertford Heath.
death of the Patriarch
Stephen Austin III – known as ‘The Patriarch’ died in 1892. Two sons, Stephen IV and Vernon Austin, tried to run the business but did not have the skill or commitment.
a new family takes over
In 1909, Victor Harrison of the well-known printing family became managing director. The chairman was Richard Austin, another of the sons of Stephen III.
the Arabic Listener
In 1938, the BBC Arabic Service was launched to counter Mussolini’s propaganda in the Middle East. Its magazine, the Arabic Listener, was printed by Stephen Austin and Sons.
a new managing director
In 1942, Victor Harrison became chairman, relinquishing his executive role to give more attention to the family firm, Harrison and Co. His son, Stanley Harrison became managing director.
a new location
In 1954, the printing works of Stephen Austin moved from Fore Street in the centre of Hertford to Caxton Hill, off the Ware Road. Later printing of the newspapers also moved to Caxton Hill, in a building opposite.
a totally new alphabet
In 1962 Stephen Austin printed a version of G.B. Shaw’s play Androcles and the Lion in the alphabet proposed in his will.
John Harrison is MD
In 1966, Stanley Harrison became chairman and his half-brother, John, took over as managing director.
a new family arrives
In 1972, Stanley Harrison sold the newspapers and printing business to Peter Fowler, who had a City background.
from apprentice to md
In 1981, Ken Hartfield who had joined Stephen Austin as an apprentice, became a director and in 1987 managing director. He is seen here with fellow directors (left to right) Bill Jordan, Richard Russell and Peter Lake.
the 225th anniversary
In 1993 Stephen Austin celebrated its 225 years with a reception at the British Library, where the guest of honour was the Right Hon Peter Brooke, MP, Secretary of State for National Heritage (seen right).
a Royal Warrant
Stephen Austin had been printing for the Royal Family for some years, including the service sheet for the Garter Ceremony at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor.
a hi-tech building
In 1998, Stephen Austin began building a new building to accommodate the technology of the 21st century. It is seen here at night – the company works 24 hours Monday to Friday
Rory Fowler becomes MD
In 2004 Rory Fowler, son of the owner and still in his forties became managing director. He had been with the company since 1996 and worked in every department.
In 2013, Stephen Austin acquired DTL – a firm specialising in electoral printing. It has since been incorporated into the Stephen Austin brand.
the launch of GradeMaker
Stephen Austin launches GradeMaker, a dedicated business designed to support examination boards’ digital workflow and transition to e-testing.
rebranding the image
For decades the image of Stephen Austin and Sons was a drawing of its eighteenth-century founder – the so-called ‘bronze man’. The new image is of a face looking forward to an exciting future.
Great to meet so many Electoral Officers and their teams at this year’s AEA conference in Brighton....