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 as the city grew and became an impor­tant trad­ing cen­tre for Caribbean sug­ar and Amer­i­can tobac­co and cot­ton. There was also a large tex­tile man­u­fac­tur­ing industry.

The printing indus­try shift­ed west as Glas­gow and the sur­round­ing areas grew, and also grew and diver­si­fied in the 19th cen­tu­ry along with the expan­sion of the city itself. Three print­ers became Lord Provost of Glas­gow: James Lums­den (1842–46), John Black­ie (1863–66) and Sir William Collins (1877–880).

As well as large-scale book and news­pa­per print­er-pub­lish­ers, sta­tionery man­u­fac­ture and whole­sal­ing was a sig­nif­i­cant part of the trade, sup­ply­ing among oth­er things ruled paper, ledgers, and school exer­cise books.

Lith­o­graph­ic print­ing was an impor­tant sec­tor in Glas­gow, which became a major cen­tre of label print­ing for the whisky and min­er­al water industries.