1945-1980

The Linotype Manual

The Linotype Manual, 1964. Trafford Local Studies Collection, cat. ref. LHC/377

By 1945 Linotype had a huge backlog of orders for printing equipment and commercially the situation of the company in the immediate post-war period seemed positive.

In 1960, the local weekly newspaper, The County Express, published a series of articles on Broadheath companies. It stated that there were 1,700 employees at Linotype.

Ever since it opened the factory has played a vital role in the life of Altrincham. It has taken its name to every corner of the world. It has brought the town new life. Its fortunes are synonymous with Altrincham’s fortunes.

60% of the company’s products were exported, business was booming, the apprentice scheme was extended, labour relations were good and the future looked rosy. However, this optimism masked a series of problems. The plant’s machinery was out-of-date and there was little forward planning. A new method of typesetting – photocomposition – had been developed and this was gradually taking over. Linotype looked into the use of computers and acquired equipment for the new technology, but used it in Cheltenham, where wage costs were lower than at Broadheath. The Broadheath plant continued to produce machinery, particularly a new web-offset machine, and by the early seventies, when the company had also moved into book printing and binding, 65% of their output was exported. However from 1,750 employees in the sixties, the figure fell to 600 by the mid-seventies. 

Around this time the company sold off the housing stock that had been such an important part of Linotype’s contribution to the local community. Generally, the other benefits that employees enjoyed were maintained. The social clubs continued to operate and employees still had access to the allotments. Sick pay was guaranteed along with good access to support with staff grievances. However, it was well known locally that Linotype paid low wages and that much of the equipment being used in the factory was outdated.

1945-1980