== This site is devoted to the history of late 20th century radical and community printing collectives and co-ops in the UK; the poster collectives, the service printers and typesetters, the print resource centres. The presses were part of a network: activists in organisations wrote and designed the books, pamphlets, posters, newspapers and leaflets which they needed to further the cause. Typesetters and printers produced them. Activists, distribution cooperatives and independent bookshops distributed them. These printshops were not of course the first 'radical printers', there is a long and rich history of this, from the workshop of Giles & Elizabeth Calvert in the 17th century to the Fabian and Anarchist presses of the late 19th century (and onwards) to the 20th century printshops of the organised left. And today? Still activists, still people keying in content and a few presses (eg Calverts, Aldgate, Upstream, Footprint), still sympathetic distributers (Turnaround, AK, Bookspeed) and a few remaining radical independent bookshops (eg Housmans, Freedom, News from Nowhere). There is also a fascinating resurgence of activist screen-printing (eg Occuprint). But to a huge extent the internet provides the means for radical communications.
Update 2018: The site was set up in 2009 by Jess Baines as an open access wiki to enable those that were once involved in the printshops to upload material and stories in order to create a growing and publicly available resource about this history. At the time there was very little available on the subject and Jess was starting to research the history within an academic context (see bottom of page for more info - and link to writing she has since done on the subject). The site was online until 2013 with several ex-printshop members, as well as Jess adding content and it became a useful resource for a wide range of people. However there were problems! The open access nature of it meant that spambots could highjack pages with other content (porn, jewellery sales, yoga.. you name it) and an increasing amount of time was spent trying to manage this. Eventually Jess decided to take the site offline until a better system, possibly different wiki software could be found - and the time to do it. That while became a few years. A better system has not yet been worked out, nor the time to overhaul the site, but a growing interest in this history has led to several request to reinstate it, hence its re-appearance. However the only way to avoid the previous problems, in the short term, has been to close the option to register as an editor. (If you registered previously you will still be able to edit and add content).
The longer-term aim is to produce a book about the history of the printshops, and the site to be developed as an online accompaniment.
The printshops have been divided up into four categories; service printers, community printshops, poster collectives and women's printshops. Some appear in more one than one category. The service printers basically did the printing for you, the community printshops showed you how to do it and the poster collectives… designed posters. Radical typesetters have their own heading. There is a separate resources section (scroll down this page) for digital archives of related documents, pamphlets, articles
This wiki was initiated by Jess Baines as a parallel project to more formal academic research about the history of the UK radical printshop collectives and co-ops. The impetus partly came from the excitement I was witnessing about the potential of 'new media', particularly web-based, to 'democratise' the means of communication and representation - to me this was exactly the ambition of some of the radical print projects that began in the 1970s. The other driver was the realisation — prompted by the 30th birthday of Calverts Press in 2007 — was that the diverse proliferation of 'alternative' printshops (co-ops/community/collectives) that existed through the 1970s and 80s had disappeared not only without a trace but before web-based and internet communications had been seriously adopted by the printshops typical user groups. What happened? What conjunction of economic/political/cultural/technical/personal factors were responsible? The academic project, was done as a part-time PhD in the Media & Communication Department at London School of Economics, started in 2008 and was completed in 2016. The 'data' about the printshops was primarily drawn from interviews with numerous ex-participants and examination of archive materials. It is called Democratising print? The field and practices of radical and community printshops in Britain 1968-98. It can be downloaded here: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/3452/. I have also written several much smaller pieces that relate to the history of the printshops (including one about the wiki) which due to current technical issues with site aren't uploaded here. They can be obtained via my page on academia.edu https://arts-london.academia.edu/JessBaines
You can get in touch via the contact form (top right). Jess Baines