Although I was apprenticed and trained in Leeds as a compositor in the printing trade, like many of my peers, I was always interested in the legendary Bradford printing company Percy Lund Humphries. This was where the great Penrose Annual was printed and published. Each edition had fascinating articles about new technologies, new typefaces, articles about typographers and designers and new devices and machines which promised so much in the ever expanding world of the printing industry. And this remarkable printing company was based in the great city of Bradford.
Therefore, I suppose it is not surprising that when Professor Caroline Archer of Birmingham City University suggested that I write a book about PLH — I had no hesitation in accepting this invitation. It was to be a labour of love. Having spent all my working life in the printing industry I quickly realised that PLH was not the norm – it was the exception. Their philosophy was absolute quality and accuracy in every detail – the company was built on pride and passion – hence the title of my book: Pride, Passion and Printing.
For one hundred years Percy Lund Humphries was one of the world’s great printing establishments. The management and the craftsmen and craftswomen worked as a team for a common purpose – it was always quality first and financial gain second, perhaps an uncommon concept in current times.
I have tried to address social, economic, political, technical and artistic issues from an historic point of view supported where possible by illustrations. Technology and artistic endeavour are ever changing; both significantly affect in one way or another political ideas and economics of society. I leave it for others to explore this observation.
I am delighted that Bradford City Libraries have been displaying a number of the books printed by PLH. Bradfordians of today will get inspiration from this display and perhaps be encouraged to take their city forward with new ideas and new industries.
I personally would like to see a revival of design, typography, and the visual arts. PLH once produced the most beautiful art books – could this great city emulate its past masters?