During its 30-year existence, the Trust has promoted projects related to the history and heritage of the printing industry in Scotland.

Printing Walks

The Trust arranges guided walks, based on the Edinburgh and Glasgow Print Trail leaflets, often in association with other organisations such as the Edinburgh Bibliographical Society, Doors Open Days and the Scottish Local History Forum.

You can see some pictures from these walks at this link.

Exhibition on printing More than just books

In November and December 2018, to mark the 30th anniversary of its establishment, a free exhibition on the heritage of Scotland’s printing industry took place in the Glasgow Herald’s former printing works, now the Lighthouse, Mitchell Lane, Glasgow. The exhibition traced the evolution of printing processes, and looked at the growth and development of the printing industry and its organisations in the City of Glasgow.

A Glasgow Print Trail leaflet was also published in 2018 and is available through our online shop.

Traditional skills workshops

The Trust also promotes training in traditional letterpress skills, for example at the University of Stirling. The nineteenth century Columbian printing press in the Pathfoot building has been restored to working order, and was on display at the March 2017 open day celebrating the university’s 50th anniversary. It continues in use as the Pathfoot Press.

The Cossar Press

The Cossar Patent Flat Bed Web Newspaper Printing Machine was developed by Tom Cossar of the Clydebank firm, John Cossar Ltd. In March 2012, the Cossar printing machine was removed from the premises of David Philips Printers where it had printed the Strathearn Herald every week from its installation in 1907 until 28 March 1991.

The 1907 Crieff Cossar was rebuilt and restored to working order while in storage in Govan, near its inventor’s childhood home. In April 2019 it moved once more, to National Museums Scotland’s Collection Centre in Edinburgh. You can watch a clip of its last run, and read more about the background and history of this press on the project page. The project received generous support from the National Printing Heritage Trust, the Scottish Newspaper Society, Unite the Union and the Oxford Guild of Printers as well as individual donors. A 1907 Cossar Club was set up to bring together anyone with in interest in this machine.

Centenary history of the Scottish print employers

In 2010, the Trust, in association with Graphic Enterprise Scotland, now Print Scotland, published Mechanical to digital printing in Scotland: the employers organisaton by Professor John Gennard, charting the 100 year his­tory of the Scottish print employers organisation.

You can buy this title, and all Trust publications through our online shop.

500 years of printing in Scotland

The Trust’s previous major project, in association with the National Library of Scotland and the Scottish Print Employers Federation (now Print Scotland), was the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the introduction of printing to Scotland which began in 2007. Throughout 2008 institutions and organisations throughout Scotland marked Scotland’s Year of the Printed Word.

On 15 September 1507, James IV of Scotland granted Walter Chepman, an Edinburgh merchant, and his business partner Androw Myllar, a bookseller, the first royal licence for printing in Scotland. Although the licence was actually granted to enable the printing of the Aberdeen breviary, a book of Scottish church practices and the lives of local saints, complied by William Elphinstone, Bishop of Aberdeen, The Complaint of the Black Knight by John Lydgate, is the first known work from the press set up by Chepman and Myllar, printed on 4 April 1508 near what is now Edinburgh’s Cowgate. Printing spread gradually through Scotland, with a press established in St Andrews in 1552, a short-lived one in Stirling in 1571 and in Aberdeen in 1622, with other major towns such as Glasgow following later in the seventeenth century.

There is record of the exhibitions and events which took place throughout Scotland on the project pages on this website

Earlier projects

These include:
research and publication on the local history of the printing industry in Scotland, resulting in the Reputation for Excellence series of books, available in our online shop.
co-operation with the SAPPHIRE project team at Edinburgh Napier University, particularly on the project to record the reminiscences of workers from Thomas Nelson & Sons Spreading the printed word.

For more information about the Trust’s work contact the Secretary.