Case Studies

Mike Harvey - from Compositor to Ely High Street printer

Mike Harvey trained as an apprentice in 1956 at W. Jefferson & Son which was based at 50 St Mary’s Street (now a chemist!). His employer, or master as they were known, was given a grant of £15 by The Bishop Laney Foundation at the beginning and at the end of the apprenticeship.


Apprentice parents had to supply, “Meat, Drink, Board, Lodging… ”. See photo of original ‘Indenture of Apprenticeship’ for more interesting texts!


The Bishop Laney Foundation still retains many of the documents relating to Mike’s apprenticeship, including the entry in the meeting minutes book when the funding was approved, a copy of the Holy scriptures and the Trust’s bank statement the same year the grant was given, with a handwritten amendment! The original cheque that was given to the employer couldn’t be traced, but a similar one was found.


Mike trained at the printers, known locally as ‘Jeffersons’, as a Compositor. This was someone who arranged type or keys for printing into a composing machine. After a year, he progressed to being a Machine Minder and took responsibility for setting up and watching the printing machines. Mike’s apprenticeship lasted four years, plus another year as an ‘improver’ before becoming a 'journeyman', which is a skilled worker who has completed their apprenticeship.

During that time, Mike worked from 8:00 am to 5:45 pm Monday to Friday and from 8:00 am to 12:30 pm on Saturdays. He earned 20 shillings (around £24 in today’s money) a week in the first year, rising to 40 shillings in the final year of his apprenticeship.

Working in print wasn’t Mike’s first choice of career as he wanted to be a hairdresser when he was 15, but his mum persuaded him to train for an apprenticeship. He grew to enjoy the work and the industry, eventually running his own business on Fore Hill in Ely, called Chapman and Harvey.

His career in print inspired all three of his children who went into similar industries - design, publishing and education. Mike's eldest son Andy, worked at Cambridge University Press for a number of years before starting his own business at H2 Associates. Bishop Laney’s Foundation funding has come full circle, from grandfather to grandson, as Andy’s children have both received grants - Indy for college fees at the University of Leeds, and Archie who's working as an apprentice electrician for Cambridge Electrical Discount.


If you or someone in your family has received a Bishop Laney’s Foundation grant and would like to tell us about how it has helped, please get in touch as we’d love to hear from you.

About us

The Bishop Laney Foundation provides grants to help apprentices and students from Ely and Soham with their training and further education.

The foundation has given these grants to assist school leavers aged under 25 living in Ely or Soham, for over 340 years.

Meet our Trustees

The trust is managed by six trustees, three from Ely and three from Soham.

They meet six times a year to oversee the various aspects of the foundation and to preserve the legacy of Bishop Benjamin Laney.


Get in touch

The Secretary
The Beeches
79 Ely Road
Little Downham

01353 699043

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