1740. The great frost has frozen the rivers of York. Taking advantage of this and the ensuing frost fair, entrepreneurial printer Thomas Gent takes a makeshift press down to the Ouse and sets up shop, printing keepsake pamphlets for any revellers willing to brave the ice that creaks and cracks beneath his rollers.
2019. The great canapés are running low at the launch of Thin Ice Press, a common press reconstruction and letterpress housed at the University of York.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this evening – was it just going to be a rather dry presentation of some old machines? – but chatting to members of the Thin Ice staff, it’s impossible not to get caught up by their enthusiasm. The launch is very much a statement of intent: exploring the past by making plans for the future. They’re keen to illuminate York’s rich printing history, too long obscured by the more touristic Romans and Vikings and tea rooms, and to start a new chapter.