Eighty Years Ago - Our Association is Born


This year has seen the 80th anniversary of the formation of the forerunner of FESPA UK Association - The Silk Screen Printers and Display Producers Association - and we thought it would be interesting to take a trip back in time to see what our predecessors got up to in those early days.

The original Minutes Book has survived those 80 years and gives us a fascinating insight into the early days of the Association. Here are a few excerpts.

The very first gathering:

A meeting of display producers, silk screen printers and suppliers was held at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, WC2 on Tuesday 23rd October 1934, at 6.30pm. Mr Richard Harman in the Chair.
The meeting elected the following officers

Mr Widgery - President
Mr Priestley - Vice-President
Mr Ashford Down
Mr Spink - Treasurer
Mr Wilson - Secretary

It's pleasing to note that Conway Hall is still alive and well - http://conwayhall.org.uk

The minutes of the next meeting, just two days later, show the venue as First Avenue Restaurant, High Holborn on Friday lunchtime. There was just one item of business. It was agreed that City Display Co act as official window dressing contractors to the Association.

So, maybe it was just an excuse for lunch?

After that flurry of early activity - a formation meeting and a lunch - the next we hear of the Association from the Minutes Book is over a year later - November 15th 1935.

In the first real business recorded there are a couple of items of interest:

Periodical Bulletin

Mr Moore referred to the first issue of the Bulletin and said he was disappointed in the lack of co-operation and would like to see that there was some interest on the part of members.


Mr Harman addressed members about copyright advising that there is no necessity to register a design to obtain a copyright.

Selling a Design

Mr Goodman raised the question of selling a design for a window display to an advertiser who did not require the designs to be produced by the company submitting the design, but only wanted to purchase the design. He said he felt this should not be encouraged and suggested that members of the Association should refuse to sell a design unless they were also producing the displays.

By 1937 we had offices at 34 Bedford Row, London, and also in this year it was decided to only meet bi-monthly for luncheons and that guest speakers should be invited. The names of Sir Charles Hyam (publicist and advertising consultant), Sir William Crawford (Advertising agency owner) and Mr Hore-Belisha (road safety campaigner and politician) were suggested.

There was "poster trouble" on the agenda when members met on 17 May 1938. The minutes revealed a concerned poster company owner, Mr Webster, addressed the meeting:

"He first mentioned the drastic price-cutting in the trade which was partly due to the exploited labour. Employees in reputable firms are members of the Poster section of the National Union of Sign, Glass and Ticket Writers and this particular union was pressing for a further increase in the rates of wages. This demand cannot be met owing to the uneconomical prices they had to compete against, offered by companies whose employees were not in a Union. In some cases he said a 12 sheet poster could be purchased for as little as 1 shilling!"

An enlightening issue was debated at the meeting of July 14th 1938:

"Mr Widgery read a letter he had received from the General Electric Co, inviting members of the Association to a lecture on Colour Lighting with special reference to Fluorescent Powders."

There are of course plenty more snippets from the Minutes Book that help us form a picture of the Association 80 years ago - please let us know if you would like to hear more. Also, if you have any items of interest, particular photographs, relating to the Association, gathering dust in your archives - we would love to hear about them.

Please contact:

Peter, peter.kiddell@fespauk.com or Carol, carol.swift@fespauk.com, or call 01226 321202

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