Archive 2015

Future/Past Residency at Robert Smails

You’ll find Robert Smails Printing Works on the High st in Innerleithen.

” It is a unique survivor: an example of the many small industries that once lined Scotland’s riverbanks. Its reconstructed water wheel shows its original power source. For over one hundred years, the printing works produced leaflets and posters for the local community of Innerleithen. The Works, now powered by electricity, is still fully operational. The business archives date from 1866.”

Future/Past is a residency devised to celebrate the rich heritage of the printing works and the 150 year anniversary in 2016.  This collaboration with this Scottish National Trust property provides a rich source of cultural heritage in the form of guard books, newspapers and conversations with past employees, volunteers and locals with memories of the original owners, the Smail’s family.
Working with the local community is an important aspect of this residency.  I am interested in participants contributing to the next ‘guard book’ in 2016 and making their contribution to the future of the printing works.


Working with the  team at Smails, I am slowly drawing out some hidden and some not so hidden conversations and stories connected with the printing works and wider community.  I recently spent the day with Property Manager & Compositor, Gen Harrison, to set type and print a series of invites to local community members using an Adana printing press.

printing invites

The invites will be inserted into brightly coloured envelopes referencing the labels designed for the numerous wool mills that operated in the area.



Deuchar Mill, home to  Weproductions, Gen & I got to grips with a Vandercook Press to produce a selection of proofs inspired by a report in the 1914 St Ronan’s Standard, a newspaper printed by Robert Smails Printing Works up until 1916.

25th February 1914 – Suffragette Scare at Traquair House Ethel Moorhead & Miss Stewart, staying at The Forresters Temprerance Hotel, Peebles asked to ‘go through the rooms’ at Traquair House after a walk in the coutnryside.  The Housekeeper, refused to admit them and shortly contacted the local police. ‘Ethel Moorhead – was wanted in Glasgow – she had been  imprisoned and failed to report herself – on liberation, under the “cat and mouse act” after resorting to hunger strike’. “The visit to Traquair House was regarded by the authorities as prospecting with a view to future operations”

More information about Robert  Smails can be found HERE

Check out the archives HERE