Smail's celebrate 500th anniversary of Scottish printing

THIS Saturday will see the 500th anniversary of Scottish printing being celebrated in the Borders.

It was on September 15, 1507, that Androw Myllar and Walter Chepman were granted a patent by King James IV, an enthusiastic innovator and patron of the arts, to set up Scotland's first printing press in Edinburgh's 'South Gait' - now the Cowgate.

The trade they learnt in France and brought to Scotland five centuries ago differs little from the way that Robert Smail's Printing Works in Innerleithen operated from 1866 until 1986.

The huge Victorian advance in technology means that the presses are more modern at Smail's but the type is still set by hand in the original way.

And now Robert Smail's Printing Works, Innerleithen is starting its celebrations for the 500 years of printing in Scotland by staging Victorian living history tours.

For the first time visitors to this unique National Trust for Scotland property can literally step back in time and meet employees of R. Smail & Sons from 1896.

Customers to R. Smail's & Sons would never have gone beyond placing their orders in the office, but by applying to take up an apprenticeship here, visitors will be able to view 'the works' as it would have been in Victorian times.

The Living History Tours will run within normal opening hours of noon-5pm and normal admission prices apply.

For further details please contact Gen Harrison on 0844 493 2259. Free tours are also being offered to eight attendees of the Working Lives talk at Innerleithen Public Library as part of the Library's More than Books Open Day.