New exhibition celebrates hundreds of years of printing history in Glasgow

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Comp Room 1920s

At a time when Scotland’s print industry is undergoing a renaissance, an exhibition is about to open in Glasgow celebrating the important role of printing in the city since the 17th century.

More Than Just Books: Printing in Glasgow is being curated by the Scottish Printing Archival Trust from November 9, 2018, to January 6, 2019, at the Lighthouse in Mitchell Street in the city centre.

Although early Scottish printers were best known for books, with firms such as Blackie and Collins becoming household names, the Glasgow industry was more than that. Newspapers, periodicals and printing for business became major enterprises.

The exhibition, which will highlight the range and variety of printing businesses in the city and the many people it employed, is very appropriately being held in the former printing works of the Glasgow Herald newspaper.

The Herald Building, which incorporates the Lighthouse, was the first public commission for Charles Rennie Mackintosh when he was a young draughtsman with architects Honeyman and Keppie. The Lighthouse tower contained an 8000-gallon water tank to protect the print works from fire.

Iain Robertson, Director and Vice-President of Print Scotland, the trade association and voice of Scotland’s graphic communication industry, said: “More Than Just Books promises to be an absolutely fascinating exhibition, not just for people in the industry but for a much wider public.

“Printing in Scotland began in Edinburgh more than 500 years ago and flourished in Glasgow from the 17th century, when the city was beginning to carve out a place as one of the most important trading posts of the British Empire.

“Glasgow was home to printers such as Robert Foulis, printer to Glasgow University, who with his brother Andrew produced beautifully typeset and carefully printed classical texts. It was also a great newspaper city, with publications employing hundreds of skilled printers.”

The Scottish Printing Archival Trust, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary with the Lighthouse exhibition, is dedicated to preserving and promoting the heritage of Scotland’s printing industry. Its chairman, Bob Hodgson, said: “Printing is one of Scotland’s oldest and most important industries. The Trust is delighted to be sponsoring this exhibition to highlight the range and variety of the industry in Glasgow.”

For more information, please contact:

Helen Williams,
Honorary Secretary, Scottish Printing Archival Trust

M: 0758 5541680