The Trust undertakes projects which promote interest in the history and visible heritage of the printing industry in Scotland. Thanks to the generous sponsorship of the John Watson Foundation, the Trust has been able to plan a programme of events.

Printing Walks

In June 2016, the Trust ran a joint event in association with the Scottish Local History Forum, highlighting the important place of Edinburgh’s Old Town in the development of Scotland’s printing industry. Follow the link to see some pictures of Walk & talk – Edinburgh Print Trail.

The Trust also ran two guided walks, on the theme of Edinburgh in print part of the Edinburgh Doors Open Day programme, on 24 and 25 September 2016.

Other routes for guided walks in Edinburgh are being developed for 2017, and a brand new Glasgow Printing Trail is in the early stages of development.


Traditional skills workshops

The Trust has also been able to help with promoting training in traditional skills. In 2016, the Trust provided training in letterpress typesetting skills to an enthusiastic group at the University of Stirling. The nineteenth century Columbian printing press in the Pathfoot building has been restored to working order, and the ‘Pathfoot Press’ was on display at the March 2017 open day celebrating the university’s 50th anniversary of the university.


The Cossar Press

Cossar pressThe ‘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 has now been rebuilt and restored to working order. It is in storage in Govan, near its inventor’s childhood home, before moving to National Museums Scotland’s National Museums 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 has been 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, 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. If you prefer to order offline, you can download an order form.


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 Graphic Enterprise 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
– 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 Honorary Secretary.