The proof is in the print as one of Leeds' oldest industries in celebrated at new festival

A piece of Leeds printing history, which is almost 170 years-old, will come out of retirement this weekend when a museum hosts a word perfect new festival.

By Emma Ryan
Friday, 29th March 2019, 12:31 pm
Updated Friday, 29th March 2019, 12:38 pm
The 169-year-old Albion printing press.
The 169-year-old Albion printing press.

The first ever Armley Print Fest takes place at Leeds Industrial Museum tomorrow (Saturday) and will see local printmakers and enthusiasts come together for a programme of workshops and film screenings.

As part of the event, the museum’s 169-year-old Albion Press will be back up and running for a special demonstration of traditional letterpress printing.

Made by Harrild and Sons of London in around 1850 and used by J Porton printers in Leeds, the press has been carefully restored by experts at the museum and still produces beautiful prints.

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Letterpress printing.

Assistant community curator Chris Sharp said: “The Albion Press is a brilliant example of the city’s rich printing heritage and the fact it’s still up and running after all these years just goes to show how much these incredible machines were built to last.

“Almost 170 years after the press was built, Leeds still has a real passion and enthusiasm for printing and there are some great independent organisations doing some fascinating creative work. By organising the first ever Armley Print Fest, we’re hoping to give some of that work a new spotlight and to introduce the next generation to the art of printing.”

Printing was once one of the city’s most important industries, with prominent local engineering companies manufacturing cutting edge printing machinery and equipment. Early industry pioneers included John Hirst, who began printing the Leeds Mercury Newspaper in 1718. By 1911 printing was one of the city’s biggest employers, with thousands working in the industry in and around the Leeds area.

Also at the event, experts will be on hand from the Centre for the Comparative History of Print at the University of Leeds, there will be a special showing of Pressing On: The Letterpress Film and visitors will also have the chance to see drypoint etching demonstrations, get hands on in relief print workshops with Art Link.

Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley will celebrate the city's printing history at an exhibition tomorrow.

More than 20 local printmakers and artists will be selling their work at the event which runs from 11am-4pm.