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HLPS was founded in Harlow by David Wright in 1974 - one of the first Liberal printing societies. Initially it had an old Gestetner litho machine (a Gestetner 211 bought for £150). This printed several million copies before being replaced by a newer Gestetner 319.
HLPS's original one-page constitution was published in Tony Hill's guide to Liberal Printing Societies, and formed the model for a number of others - it remained unchanged until 1996 (either version available on request).
HLPS printed for every election from October 1974 to 1987, but then fell into decline due to lack of a suitable place to run the press, and of people who still had time to run it. During most of the 1990's, the 319 litho machine sat unused in a garage (it was finally sold in 2013), and only laser printing was done.
Our original very old guillotine, which lacked modern safety measures, was sold to a collector of old machinery. (BTW the only similar model I have ever seen was in Cuba - at La Imprenta, a restaurant in a former print works. The head waiter used it to trim the paper serviettes.)
The Gestetner Gestalith 319, shortly before it was sold.
In 1996 the society was reactivated, when we bought a Riso TR1510 digital printing machine, and Nick Macy took over as manager. The Riso could run off A4 at 100 copies a minute: the same speed as the litho machine on a good day, but without the half hour setup and hour cleaning down afterwards! Now it's simply "Turn on, Print out, Turn off".
In 1998 we traded in the 1510 for a Riso GR 3710 A3 machine. This enabled us to print A3 leaflets, and also posters up to about 10" x 10". The print quality was also higher, especially where were able to print from a digital original using the Riso computer interface.
At the end of 2004, we traded in the now-old GR 3710 for an RP 3700, which provided better quality photographs. By now almost all our work came in as PDFs, and this machine had a built-in computer interface.
In 2010 we upgraded again, to a Risograph MZ 970 which can print on up to A3 paper in two colours at once - normally Black + Orange, but also red or blue. Except for some extra set-up time, two colour work now takes no longer than single colour, so the price we charge for a 2-colour leaflet is the same as for a single colour one.
David Wright took over the Society from Nick Macy in 2011, initially as Operations Manager but after Nick's sad death on 28 November 2011, also as Financial Manager.
In 2014, operations moved to Sutton in Cambridgeshire, where they are now.
We also have an A3 folding machine and an A4 colour laser printer, which we use for mail merge or very short runs. In May 2016 we added an Ideal 4305 guillotine, which can cut several hundred sheets of up to SRA3 size at a time.
In January 2019, we took delivery of an FP Mailing franking machine, which means we can now offer a postage service too, at a discount to Royal Mail postage stamp prices.
In February 2020, we bought a Duplo DF-1000 Folding Machine, to replace our 20 year old Horizon PF-P310.