A LONG chapter in York’s proud industrial heritage closes this week, as the old label-printing division of Sessions leaves the city.

The business would have been 200 years old this year, but its three divisions were split when Sessions went into administration in April 2010.

Now its label printing division, bought out of administration by Paragon Print & Packaging Group, is moving to a new 42,000 sq ft plant in Boston, Lincolnshire.

Paragon has continued to operate with about 40 staff in Sessions’ Huntington Road premises, where the business has been based since 1920, but the property was sold to be redeveloped.

Mark Lapping, managing director of Paragon Print & Packaging Group, announced in July that it could not find a suitable alternative location in the York area.

Yesterday the final piece of machinery was moved to the Boston plant, representing the end of an era for York since the company made a name for itself as a national label printing specialist printing grocery labels during the First World War.

It is believed that about 11 employees have stayed with the business to be redeployed in Boston, but many have left or been made redundant.

Graham Sorrell, who has worked for Sessions since 1973, said it was a sad time. “It’s somewhere I have spent a great part of my life and it’s closing down.

“It’s totally empty inside and the last machines are going today. The building is an empty shell.

“I wanted to stay with the company until the end, but I will have to look for a new job in the new year.

“It’s a whole new ball game to me looking for a job.”

Sessions’s machinery division was sold to a York-born manufacturing entrepreneur Adrian Barraclough and trades successfully in York as Sessions Label Machines, and its commercial printing division was merged with Barringtons of York.

The Sessions name is synonymous with York’s industrial heritage, in its heyday employing 200 people. It was founded in 1811 by Quaker William Alexander as a book and stationery shop in Castlegate, a replica of which can be found in the Castle Museum’s model street, Kirkgate.

In 1865, it was bought by the Sessions family and has had premises on Ousegate, Coney Street and North Street over the years.

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Name will last

FOR two centuries Sessions printing works has been one of York’s industrial icons. The company became widely respected during the First World War as a specialist printer of grocery labels and in its heyday once employed more than 200 people.

But the last orders have been dispatched and yesterday the final piece of machinery was moved to a new plant in Boston. Now the Huntington Road factory is an empty shell.

Sessions was founded in York’s great Quaker tradition by William Alexander on Castlegate. Its three divisions were split when Sessions went into administration last April.

But amid sadness there is some cause for cheer; the machinery division was saved when York entrepreneur Adrian Barraclough bought it out and the Sessions name will continue to York.

Nevertheless, for Sessions’ former employees there will be an uncertain start to the New Year as they begin to look for new work.

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