Lead letters for a printing press
Scottish Borders

Robert Smail’s Printing Works

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About this place

Oldest working commercial letterpress printers in the UK – a living museum of Victorian history

  • Try your hand at being an apprentice compositor in the Caseroom.
  • See our three working printing presses in motion.
  • Learn how newspapers, tickets, posters and letterheads were printed before the digital age.
  • Explore Robert Smail’s office, scarcely altered since 1866.
  • Visit the Smail’s Stationer's Shop, stocked with cards, postcards, posters, calendars, and prints produced using the original Victorian & Edwardian equipment.

In the heart of Innerleithen lies this gem of printing history. Robert Smail’s Printing Works is an operational letterpress printers and an important part of Scotland’s industrial heritage.

Between 1866 and 1986, newspapers, business cards, stationery for local traders and letterheads all passed through the inky presses of this thriving business. The National Trust for Scotland purchased the printing works in 1986 and have kept it as a genuine working printers.

The printing presses, some of which date back to the Victorian era, can be seen in action; shelves of type line the walls, revealing the changing fashions for typefaces; and 52 giant guardbooks showcase almost every item printed by the family firm.

Access to the printing works is by guided tours only and booked via Eventbrite.

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Today's Opening Hours

Printing works
Gift shop
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Entry prices

One adult family
Young Scot
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At all Trust places, admission is free for members.

Join from £5.20 / month

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Accreditations and awards

  • A navy oval badge from the Scottish Tourist Board, showing 4 stars for a Visitor Attraction. There is an illustrated green and purple thistle at the top of the badge.
  • A green oval badge from the Green Tourism Business Scheme showing a Gold award. There is a blue roundel at the top with an illustration of a teal and purple thistle in it.

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