The Hotspur Press Manchester

Stories of the people who worked their in the 1960s

Percy Brothers Manchester, The Hotspur Press

Percy Brothers Manchester, The Hotspur Press in its present state of neglect

Read all about Percy’s in The Mill

The Mill is an excellent email based newsletter all about Manchester with really interesting and well written articles on what’s happening now and in the past. Recently Dani wrote an a piece on The Hotspur Press – Read it Here.

 You may have passed Percy Brothers iconic building on the bus, in a taxi or car or even on your bike. You may have also idly wondered what used to go on there now that it’s obviously neglected and abandoned.

I worked there for over 5 years from 16 to 21, my most dangerous years  Let me tell you about some of the fascinating people I worked with and some of the events which are now barely believable  Some names may be changed to protect the guilty but I assure you everything I write will have more than a grain of truth…

My parents had sent me to a prep school as they knew that the Catholic school primary class of 54 pupils meant the odds were stacked against me for gaining any worthwhile profession. From there I passed my 11+ and went to a grammar school. Unfortunately, due to a number of circumstances, (mainly going to blues clubs in Manchester) I failed miserably in my exams and it was decided at least I could join the family trade of printing. My five years at The Hotspur Press turned me from an overly sensitive callow youth into someone who could trade insults with the best. It helped me develop a thicker skin than I could have possibly imagined. The chip I had on my shoulder was chiselled away gradually by events and people who I still remember to this day. Percy Brothers sometimes resembled the fun house at Blackpool – there was nothing and nobody who couldn’t and didn’t end up the butt of a joke.

If any of the people who were there read this, I am sure they would agree that Percy Brothers, The Hotspur Press was a brilliant place to work in its heyday because the companionship was amazing. The purpose of this blog is to preserve some of those events and people who turned me into a man before the building is flattened, the steelworks and cranes are erected and it becomes yet another historic building in Manchester turned into pension pot for someone living in a far away country.

Percys By Ben Tallon
Drawing of Percy Brothers, The Hotspur Press by Ben Tallon

Click the drawing to discover more about Ben Tallon

The Great Balloon Race Jape!

Read all about the Hotspur Press Great Milk Machine Robbery!

An old apprentice gets in touch

The following has been kindly sent by Tony Whitehead, an apprentice stereotyper at Percy’s from a long long time ago!

I was an apprentice there from 1951 when I went into the  RAF. Albert’s deputy was a lovely chap called Harold Perks. A chap called Charlie Clarke, the only blind compositor in the North had a lot to do with the social club. He did the Opera House Bill on the floor with 8in. Wooden type letters, he even had difficulty seeing that. I’m pleased to say my last 30 years was spent on The Guardian.

When I was there in the 50s the head stereotype was called Fraser. The apprentices spent hours down there positioning the Thriller Comics. We spent a lot of time watching the rats on the  banks of the Irwell.

Tony – I think we may have to disagree with you slightly as regards Harold Perks!

6 thoughts on “The Hotspur Press Manchester”

  1. Looking on line to see what was happening with the building. Not found a lot of recent stuff. My father started his apprenticeship there in 1920, We still have his Indenture certificate and he worked in printing most of his life apart from the war years at AVRO he finished up at Wildings of Shrewsbury ( ask any postcard collector about them) I also have a spoon Percy’s Jubilee 1926 , would that be 100 years ? or some other Jubilee?

    • Brilliant! I wonder if you could send me a photo of the spoon and I will put it on the site. My grandfather took photos for Percys at a picnic they had. I will check to see if it was for a jubilee.
      Cheers Bob Cummings

  2. Hi,
    I worked in the Hotspur Press from about 1975 till 2002 and had a company called Crela Products The business closed in 2002. It is sad to see the state of the building but I do have happy memories and remember many of the other workers from the printing side
    Jeffrey Krell

  3. Amazing stories. Now it’s likely to become a “soulless” tower block for 1000 students!
    However perhaps the facade will be saved unlike on many of the redevelopment sites in last 30 years.

    • Cheers Eric

      What I am trying to show is that there was a whole world inside that building. Paraphrasing your expression, it had ‘soul’. It’s not a case of the ‘good old days’ but just a world that has been born, died and is no more…

  4. Thanks for this. My grandfather Harold Isherwood was a typesetter and worked at Percy Brothers, probably in the 1940s and 50s. If anyone has anything mentioning him please share as that would be fabulous.


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