So far I have discovered seven printers in my family. The most recent is me Dad, pictured here at The National Justice Museum taking part in a The Smallprint Company workshop. He’s really taken to this rioting stuff since we learned to sing a whole load of Luddite songs.
The earliest reference to a printer in the family that I have found so far is my 4x Great Uncle Elijah “Edmund” Lyneham who at the age of 16 was listed on the 1861 census as Printer Compositor. I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for Elijah. He was a comedian and dramatist, touring England and getting great reviews later on in his life. His older sister, according to family legend “ran away to go on the stage at 17”. This was Charlotte, my 3x Great Grandma who pops up briefly in my song “That’ll Do”. When I was 18 I packed up and left Nottingham to head off to London to attend a prestigious drama school. It turned out not to be the right path for me, however touring around small venues making people laugh like Elijah did seems very close to what I’m doing now. And Charlotte became known for her upcycling long before it was a term. So I’m following in both their footsteps.
When I visited The National Justice Museum I found it so fascinating that I went back three times in one week. The previous visit I was 11, so I guess I was making up for lost time.
I found out that The Smallprint Company www.smallprintcompany.com were running a hands-on letterpress workshop at the museum. Dad was a printer many moons ago, so I dragged him along with me to give it a go.
Dad wasn’t the first printer in the family by a long stretch. Great Grandad Joseph Caine worked at Thos. Forman & Sons Ltd, prestigious Nottingham printers. The first picture is from our family collection, the second from a relative in America who I discovered through my genealogy work. My best guess is that these pictures show the machines he used when he was involved in printing The Nottingham Evening Post at the old Forman buildings on South Sherwood Street.
The old Forman buildings on South Sherwood Street are no longer there, but they stood where The Cornerhouse is now. I played a competition for a residency at the adventure golf place there last year, because I liked the thought of playing in the same place Great Grandad Joseph had made one of his contributions to culture in Nottingham. I don’t know what he would have thought of me dressed like a wood sprite and getting a little bit tipsy with me Dad in the basement of his old workplace.
On the opposite side of South Sherwood Street, a little further away from the centre of town, stood Taylor’s Factory. Great Grandad Joseph set up his own printing business there: The Able Press. The name was a pun on Cain(e) and Abel, and given the punderstorms that form in our house now, it seems this is another family trait.
This is The Able Press business card.
I really enjoy doing layout work, so it’s pretty special to be able to see how this was handled in the family previously
It was really nice to be able to have a go at something that would have been so familiar to my ancestors.