Exhibition in Glasgow 2018

As  part of the cel­e­bra­tion of its 30th anniver­sary, the Scot­tish Print­ing Archival Trust held an exhi­bi­tion on the his­to­ry of print pro­duc­tion in Glas­gow in the Light­house, the Glas­gow Her­ald’s for­mer print­ing works.


Glasgow’s print­ing indus­try dates back to the 17th cen­tu­ry. The ear­li­est print­ers are best known for the pro­duc­tion of books, but Glasgow’s indus­try was much more than that. In the 19th and 20th cen­turies news­pa­per and peri­od­i­cal pro­duc­tion, and print­ing for busi­ness were major enter­pris­es, oper­at­ing large print­ing offices in the city cen­tre and employ­ing many people.

George Ander­son was the first print­er in Glas­gow. He was invit­ed to the city in 1638 and remained until his death in 1647. The print trade was orig­i­nal­ly based around the old city cen­tre near the mar­ket cross, at the junc­tion of the High Street, Salt­mar­ket, Tron­gate and Gal­low­gate. Glasgow’s print­ing indus­try expand­ed and the cen­tre of the trade shift­ed west with the com­mer­cial cen­tre as the city grew, and there were large print­ing works in the area around Buchanan Street. Three mas­ter print­ers became Lord Provost of Glas­gow, which shows the impor­tance of the indus­try to the city’s econ­o­my: James Lums­den (1842–46), John Black­ie (1863–66) and Sir William Collins (1877–880).

The first of these, James Lums­den, was a sta­tionery man­u­fac­tur­er. As well as large-scale book and news­pa­per print­er-pub­lish­ers, sta­tionery man­u­fac­ture and whole­sal­ing mad up a sig­nif­i­cant part of Glas­gow’s print trade, sup­ply­ing among oth­er things ruled paper, ledgers, and school exer­cise books. Glas­gow print­ers pio­neered the new process of lith­o­graph­ic print­ing, and the city became a major cen­tre of label print­ing for the whisky and min­er­al water industries.