I have been bookbinding since 1972 when I started a trade apprenticeship with Warren & Sons Ltd, the Wykeham Press, in their bookbinding department in Winchester. Warren & Sons was a closed union shop, so whilst serving my apprenticeship the firm sent me on block release to college in Southampton where I obained my City & Guilds Basic and Advanced Craft cerficiates over the course of four years.
At the end of the fifth year, in 1977, I completed my apprenticeship and left Warren & Sons to set up my first bindery at Hildon, near Mottisfont, in Hampshire. The facilities were very basic, no electicity or water, and the location was extremely remote. In 1980 I moved to Winchester and took over the bindery at P & G Wells Ltd. At the time there was one 80 year old bookbinder working there one day a week, Mr Ted Bloomfield, who had worked there from the age of 14. He continued to work for me for the next three years, when he finally retired.
I am still there today doing a variety of work, from restoration to new binding. I also run bookbinding classes from the premises.
I spent a lot of time at the bindery when I was growing up, and started sewing books when I was about 12. In 1999, having completed my A-levels the previous year, I started working for Dad and learning the trade. I moved from case binding periodicals and other cloth work to re-backing in cloth, leatherwork, 'finishing', and eventually restoration.
I spent nine years at the bindery in Winchester. During this period I also spent two years working part time for Richard Harshers Trade Bindery in Romsey, which was good experience in production bookbinding and print finishing, and I worked part time for a paper conservator in 2001.
In 2008 I opened my own bindery in Petersfield, where I worked for four years, before going into partnership with Dad in 2012.
Pete has his own website at www.petewiltshire.co.uk featuring content about Pete's work prior to joining the Winchester Bindery.