Friday, 9 November 2007

One Hundred Years of Grease and Ink

London Lithographers’ Centenary

Vincent Brooks, Day and Son, Ltd.

A notable event in the history of the printing trade of London was celebrated on Friday night, when a dinner was given by Messrs. Vincent Brooks, Day and Son, Ltd.- London’s oldest firm of lithographic printers- to mark the centenary of this well known house. At the Horse Shoe Hotel, Tottenham-court-road, the firm entertained a large company of their employees, together with a number of distinguished visitors connected with the printing trade, amongst the latter being Mr. Gerard T. Meynell, Mr. A. E. Goodwin (secretary of the Federation of Master Printers), and Mr. Woodgate Stevens (London secretary of the Amalgamated Society of Lithographic Printers).

Under the presidency of Mr. W. Vincent Brooks, the present head of the firm, an excellent dinner was enjoyed, and then the company settled down to a generous concert programme interspersed with speeches.

Before the speeches started, an interesting preliminary took place, the chairman and his brother, Mr. Frederick A. Brooks, being presented each with a framed portrait of himself. The presentation was made on behalf of the employees by Mr. Broadstock, who was supported with enthusiastic applause. Both brothers then briefly returned thanks for this pleasant souvenir of the occasion.

The toast of the firm was given by Mr. Gerard Meynell. After remarking upon the wonderful achievement which was being celebrated that night, Mr. Meynell pointed out that lithography was not introduced until 1800, and in 1823 the firm which Messrs. Vincent Brooks represent to day began business, and they were still going on, turning out first class work. The thought of this achievement lead him to suggest the slogan “There are far more crooks than Brooks in the printing trade to-day.” (Laughter) Mr. Meynell concluded with a few personal references affectionately reminiscent of Mr. F. Vincent Brooks, the late managing director.

A Unique Record

Response was made by the chairman, who began with a word of regret that his respected father had not lived to see this remarkable occasion. He regretted, too, that their old esteemed friend, Mr. Oliver A. Fry, who had been editor of Vanity Fair for a number of years and a director of this company since it’s incorporation, was prevented by ill-health from being present. After thanking Mr. Meynell for the generous way he him proposed the toast, Mr. Brooks went on to recall some outstanding facts relating to the firm’s history. Although, he said, their were older firms in existence that were now practising lithography, no other house had been established as lithographic printers for so long a period as theirs. This achievement was, he believed, unique. Another point was the record of their staff, and he went on to mention a number of cases of remarkably long service, including that of Mr. Greenfield, who had join joined the staff in 1861 (though his connection with the firm had not since been unbroken), and Mr. Broadstock who had been with them since 1869, and Mr. Clements, the works manager, who had been with them since 1870. He thought these two facts, the age of the firm, and the long experience of their worker, had been a valuable asset to the them in the period of trade depression. They had in their time done some unique and famous work. For instance everybody knew the world-renowned Vanity Fair cartoons. After recalling a number of other outstanding pieces of work, the speaker mentioned the fact then when Baxter ceased his practice, the firm of Vincent Brooks carried on the process, and they had also been the pioneers of photo printing. The chairman mentioned incidentally that Mr. Griffiths had, at the last board meeting, been co-opted a director of the firm - an announcement greeted with applause - and he closed by expressing, on behalf of his fellow directors and himself, a hope that their happy gathering that evening would help to cement the very excellent feeling already in existing between the management and the staff. (Applause).

Mr. A. V. Hunt, for 25 years a director of the firm, then proposed “The Guests” in an entertaining speech. After recalling 80 years of friendship between the Brooks family and his own, he proceeded to make appreciative individual mention of their visitors, and concluded with a very cordial reference to his old friend Vincent Brooks, to whom he referred as a “great hearted and noble minded” man.

The Visitors’ Speeches

Mr. A. E. Goodwin, very cordially received, responded on behalf of the visitors. In the course of an able speech he spoken in very high terms of the firm’s lithographic work, and also mentioned his own association with the F. Vincent Brooks in connection with the Federation of Master Printers, remarking that the whole printing in London had often be indebted to that gentleman’s sane and useful counsel.

Mr. Courtney Lewis was also called upon to respond, and did so in amusing and interesting fashion, recalling many facts connected with the introduction of lithography into London, and referring especially to the work of George Baxter, in regard to which Mr. Lewis is an authority.

Mr. Woodgate Stevens also responded recalling his own early association with the firm, and especially his very high regard for Mr. Frederick Vincent Brooks whom he had known. In the old days, he said there were happy relations between employers and staff and he felt he could express on behalf of the staff of the present day their appreciation of the way they were treated.

Mr. F. A. Brooks (who was enthusiastically received) proposed the toast of “The Staff,” and this was responded to Mr. Clements.

A very entertaining and musical programme was given during the evening, and the proceedings terminated at a late hour with the singing of the National Anthem. The whole proceedings were marked with the utmost cordiality, and Messrs. Vincent Brooks, Day and Son, Ltd., are to be congratulated both upon the unique achievement celebrated, and upon the happy manner of its celebration.

British and Colonial printer Source:
The British & Colonial Printer and Stationer
Vol. 93, no. 25, December 20, 1923.

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