Many of our readers know us well but not all do and we sometimes think we hide our light under a bushel. We believe we have something rather special as book publishers so take this opportunity to tell you about our 'philosophy', if that is not too presumptuous a word.
Twelveheads Press is not, has never intended to be and is unlikely to become a major commercial publisher. Basically, the partners and owners are three friends who want to publish books that interest them as, indeed, we have done since 1978. We were all gainfully employed in other professions, although now retired, and we have no staff or premises so we do not have the imperative to publish, regardless of quality, in order to meet our costs, or to simply eat. It means we can publish what we want to publish and to the standards we want. Of course, we have to be commercial and professional and we hope we achieve this. Indeed, we sometimes think we are more professional than the professionals!
Michael Messenger and John Stengelhofen founded Twelveheads Press in 1977 to publish books about industrial and transport history, and in particular of Cornwall and the west country. Our first title appeared in 1978. Alan Kittridge joined us in 1988 to be involved in the Heritage series that we were then planning and brought his love of paddle steamers and things nautical. Sadly John Stengelhofen died in 2020 and the business is continued by Michael Messenger and Alan Kittridge.
Our prime aim is to publish books to as high a standard as possible and we have always endeavoured to maintain this both in editorial aspects and in the printing and production of our books. All our books are the result of original research and we insist on the highest standards from our authors. By staying with subjects we ourselves are knowledgeable about, we ensure that our books are accurate and authoritative. We prefer to limit the quantity we produce rather than sacrifice quality. As well as ensuring correctness and accuracy we also like our books to be readable and entertaining.
We can only achieve this happy state of affairs if our books are also attractive to our readers, and thank goodness there are still enough of you out there who like the same things as we do. Because if you stop supporting us, we shall have to stop producing the books. We hope you enjoy them.
Our name is taken from the nearby village of Twelveheads, which took its name from a mining process. Because of a ready supply of water in the valley, ore from the nearby tin mines was bought here to be crushed, or 'stamped', in a set of twelve stamps, or 'heads'.
For 25 years our address was Twelveheads, being the Messenger family home, and that address remains in many of our current titles. However, the time came to move on from Chy Mengleth and into Chacewater village. Please note that this is a postal business and not open to callers.
Editorial and design work takes place at the partners' own homes using an assortment of PCs and Apple computers.
The founders and partners
Alan Kittridge is a graphic designer with a strong interest in maritime matters. He is also an excellent artist and has had a number of exhibitions of his paintings, which are usually of nautical subjects.
Michael Messenger has now retired from banking. He is particularly interested in early transport history and has been active in the Association for Industrial Archaeology and is a past President of the Railway & Canal Historical Society.
John Stengelhofen was designer and first Director of the Wheal Martyn China Clay Museum, later becoming a Curator with the National Maritime Museum, but returned to architecture before retiring. He was a Past-President of the Royal Institution of Cornwall.
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