As a history teacher in the late eighties, Graham Moss acquired an interest in paper conservation and book repair. In 1990 he acquired a small printing press to print labels for the paper wrappers and spine labels. Of course a printing press requires metal type, and soon learning about the differences in type faces and designs became an inspiration for him to try more than simply printing labels.
Printing stationery and cards for friends and relations was the next step. When an Arab press, albeit in pieces, was offered for sale, he bought it, blissfully uncaring that it wouldn't fit in the dining room. The backyard shed, once home to a three-wheel motorbike, was transformed into a print shop, its entrance off Incline Road conveniently providing a name for the new press.
In 1993 Incline Press found its first publishing project when a chance meeting with the artist Pete Carter coincided with the purchase of a first edition of Oliver Goldsmith’s The Deserted Village. Carter's modern-day interpretation of Goldsmith’s poem provided the title-page illustration, and a generous gift provided the funds for large fount of Baskerville type with the “long s” from John Eickhoff’s Acorntype Foundry—enough to set by hand a type facsimile of the poem including all the errors and differences that Goldsmith later changed for the fourth printing. While we were still printing this, the designer Enid Marx asked if we would like to produce a new edition of her 1938 set of wood engravings for Nursery Rhymes, which had recently been returned to her from the original publishers, Chatto & Windus. Thus the first book from Incline Press became its second, and we learned about some of the detours and distractions which are both the curse and the reward of the private press printer.
Since those days, the Press has grown. Over fifty books have been published and the fount of Baskerville has been transformed into probably too many cabinets of type—several of which were featured in the first Incline Press type specimen portfolio, Forty Sheets to the Wind. The table-top Adana, Vandercook proofing press and the Arab treadle press have been joined by an Auto-Vic, and the Victoria Art Platen, both of which run on electricity and serves as our 'tip of the hat' to the twenty-first century, while a Heidelberg has just been fettled and will be pressed into action during 2012.
All this expansion has long outrun the confines of the backyard shed, requiring a move to larger quarters. The most recent home of the press—a three-storey building built in the 1820’s—now houses the entire workings of the Press: paper, ink, bookcloth, type and machinery. Located on one of the oldest streets in the heart of Oldham town centre, 36 Bow Street was originally built as a small cotton mill, but continues life in the twenty-first century as a letterpress print shop.