Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Adana, 162 Gray's Inn Road WC1

I used to do letterpress printing at school. We painstakingly set Christmas cards, letterheads and programmes for the school play in traditional type, printing them on a large Arab press the art master had finaggled from somewhere. Smaller items were printed on a fleet of Adana presses, sold from this shop, which opened in 1950 though the Art Deco fascia makes it look rather 1930s.
Adana was set up to cater for the amateur printer, and very helpful they were when I visited to buy boxes of 14pt Perpetua capitals and new rollers for my flatbed press.
Letterpress has gone the way of chemical photography, pianolas and steam locos, though Adana hung on until as late as 1999. I still have my old Adana flatbed in the shed. It is just too good to throw away.
Happily, the old shop is still a printshop, so the sign is still appropriate. There is a short history of the company here.


Anonymous said...

Wow, that is a great pic of the old shop.

I have been looking high and low for an old Adana flatbed. It's suffering in your garden shed... I would definitely put it to good use doing what it does best... printing!

And I'd certainly take good care of it too, in stewardship until it's time to pass it on.

If you ever want to let it go (or sell), please let me know!


Anonymous said...

This isn't actually Adana's original shop! They leased No. 8 Gray's Inn Road (ground floor and basement only) from the owner (Brilliant Signs Ltd) from 1950 until 1980 when the building was eventually demolished. Snow+Rock now occupy the original site of No. 8, although it's a modern building dating from the early 1980s.

In 1980 Adana moved to a former hi-fi dealer's shop at No. 162 Gray's Inn Road (pictured above), transferring their original shop signage at the time of the move.

The company sold the current shop circa 1989 to a new owner who originally sold Adana products as an independent agent. Adana had similar agencies all over the UK for many years, including Van Der Velde Ltd in Newcastle, E. W. Massey in Belfast and Crowstone Commercial Art in Westcliff-on-Sea.

The current shop owners have a contractual agreement to continue using the Adana name, but haven't sold letterpress supplies for almost a decade. It's now a "quickprint" shop.

The original Adana company is still in existence, still trading and still selling presses and type (2010). They are now a division of Caslon Ltd.