A couple of weeks ago, members of Leeds Print Workshop took part in a fun day of printing and history at Leeds Industrial Museum, Armley Mills. Kirstie, Lyndon and Susie took up an invitation to try out a press and wooden type from the museum collection, running an all-day print demo for interested visitors.
Opportunities to use museum display pieces don’t come along every day, and it was a thrill to take this equipment for an outing. A magnificent 1850 Albion press – still on its museum display pedestal – was the vehicle of choice for the day’s printing. This press has been carefully restored to working condition by Armley Mills staff, and printed beautifully.
A fascinating range of wooden type was brought out of storage for the day, and museum staff and our workshop members had fun coming up with phrases and setting the type into chases. To go with the type, we found some interesting image blocks, some hand-carved. Fittingly for the Industrial Museum, we had a lot of smashing pictures of steam engines to print.
Visitors to the museum during our print day included historians, PhD students of publishing history, printmakers, veterans of the industrial printing industry, and some lively kids on half term break. Workshop members had a great time meeting folks and nerding out about letterpress printing technique.
As well as the Workshop print demo, the ‘Pressed For Words’ day featured a pop-up exhibition of early printed books, a family-friendly relief printing workshop, a talk on the History of Print, and a rousing performance by the Commoners Choir amongst the exhibits. We’d definitely recommend a visit to the folks at Armley Mills, and a wander through the industrial history of Leeds.