Petty’s – Memorabilia from the Leeds print shop that left a lasting impression

Petty's packaging department.
Petty’s packaging department.

Petty & Sons opened in Whitehall Road, Holbeck, in 1865. The family-owned printing company became the first business in the UK to install color web offset presses in 1963.

The business was sold before becoming part of tycoon Robert Maxwell’s British Printing & Communications Corporation empire in 1981 and was subsequently owned by several companies before it closed in December 2014.

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At the controls of a giant press at Petty’s in June 1985.

These photos are sure to evoke memories for generations of workers, especially those who worked at the site in the 1980s. They were taken at a time when the printing industry was booming and worth 4 billions of pounds a year and brought Britain a useful export surplus.

The print shop made headlines again in October 2016 when a major fire broke out at the empty site.

Explosions could be heard and thick clouds of smoke could be seen billowing from the roof of the site.

The hell prompted a pop star visiting Leeds at the time to post on his Twitter account to his 1.4 million followers

A new printing press at Petty’s in June 1986 was intended to meet the demand for color.

MyFly star Tom Fletcher, who was in town for a signing of his new children’s book The Christmasaurus at WHSmith on Lands Lane, tweeted: “Amazing smoke from the fire in Leeds right now. I hope everyone is doing well.”

DID YOU WORK AT PETTY’S BACK DURING THE DAY? Share your memories with Andrew Hutchinson via email at: [email protected] or tweet it – @AndyHutchYPN*************************

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The Whitehall Road print shop pictured in November 1983.

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October 2016 and thick clouds of smoke billowed from the roof of the Petty site.


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