The principal, and currently, only press at the Vortex Press is quite an antique. It is a Furnival Express, which was built in Reddish, Manchester, in the late nineteenth century. It is a class of machine that is variously described as a jobbing press, a jobbing platen, or a clamshell press. The latter term relates to the movement of the platens, which meet like a closing clam. There were many clamshell designs from around 1870 onwards, the most successful being the Arab. The Furnival Express is an Arab style design, having the same inner chase dimensions of 13 by 9 inches. This size was called a foolscap folio, for some reason, though standard foolscap would be 1/2 inch too big for it. The complexities of the paper sizing system of the time requires further research and a separate page. Needless to say it is a letterpress machine.
My press is numbered No 366. They are very rare (not like the commoner Arabs), and may be one of only two working examples in the UK. One was at Castle Cary (which then went to Camberley, but has since been sold – with some parts missing) and another is at work in Brighton. Let me know if you know of these, or others.
My press was purchased in 2008 from a working press in Bridport. Here are some pictures of it.