Scottish print pioneer and J Thomson founder passes

By Rhys Handley, Monday 12 February 2018

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Hamish Thomson, founder of J Thomson Colour Printers, has died aged 90.

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Hamish Thomson founded J Thomson in 1953

Born May 1927, Thomson initially worked for his father James’ paper merchanting business before moving the Glasgow-headquartered company into print in 1953. He remained honorary chair of the firm until the end of his life, with Kevin Creechan serving as managing director for the past 12 years.

Thomson passed away peacefully on Thursday, 8 February, following a short illness.

In his early career he became one of the first entrepreneurs to offer colour printing in Scotland with the use of eight vertical Miehle letterpress machines. As well as its main production site in Glasgow it now also has sales offices in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Inverness. Thomson’s son, Nick, is now owner and deputy chair.

“Since he passed, we have had so many emails from people saying how much they liked my father,” Nick Thomson said. “He was tough but fair as a businessman, and his word was his bond, which gained him a lot of respect. It’s something I have tried to follow.

“Our staff were all very fond of him and he could often be found on the shop floor chatting with the guys by 7am each day. We have had generations of families work at J Thomson, with one family we had three generations working simultaneously. One man who retired two years ago had been with us since 1966 – his whole career.

“He knew so many people in the industry, and he was immensely fond of his family. He always went out of his way to help us and care for us.”

By the 1980s, the company was one of the largest Man Roland houses in the UK. Three generations of Heidelberg machines followed. In 2017, Hamish Thomson witnessed the next transformation of the Glasgow factory with the installation of two KBA 106 Rapidas, one of which was the first commercial press in Scotland to use LED UV technology.

Hamish Thomson is survived by his wife Margaret, 86, their two sons, and five grandchildren.

Nick Thomson said that funeral service details were still to be confirmed, as were details for tributes or charitable donations.

He added: “My dad was very well known in his day, though many of the people he worked closest with are no longer with us. But he was always up for going out and having a few beers.

“He had a lot of fun in his 90 years, which is the most important thing.”

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