In 1802 a partnership was formed between John Ward, a paper manufacturer, and two other men also in the paper business, Robert Greenfield and James Blow. By the 1820’s this led to a new company, John Ward and Sons, who ran paper mills in Belfast, Comber and Coleraine. John Ward’s son, Marcus took over the Belfast operation in the early 1830’s.
When John died in 1836, Marcus formed a new firm, Marcus Ward and Sons, based in Pottinger’s Entry in Belfast. He moved the Company away from paper into stationery, binding and printing. By 1842 the firm was successful enough to move into more substantial premises in Cornmarket, Belfast. Under Marcus it became involved in colour lithography, an important new technology.
So successful was the Company in this area that after Marcus died in 1847, his Company won a prize medal for its colour lithography work in the Great Exhibition of 1851. His three sons, Francis, William and John were to see their father’s company develop into one of Britain’s major printers, through its combination of technological skills and high artistic standards.