A Brief History of Harrison & Sons

The founder of the company, Thomas Harrison, was apprenticed to the Confidential Government Printer in 1738, and was joined in the business by his younger brother James in 1743. The firm is best known for publishing and printing The London Gazette.

When Thomas Richard Harrison entered into partnership with John William Parker in 1839, the company was called Harrison and Co., but this changed to Harrison and Son in 1849 and later Harrison and Sons in 1854. Their main premises were at 45-46 St Martin’s Lane, but they also maintained private presses at the Foreign Office and the War Office. Another of their famous publications, Burke’s Peerage, was printed at the old Royal Library building in Pall Mall from 1853 to 1905.

The twentieth century saw branches of the business established outside central London in addition to the premises in St Martin’s Lane, which they occupied until 1964. Postage stamps were printed first at Hayes, Middlesex, from 1911, and later from 1933 at High Wycombe, where the company is still based. The Hayes branch turned into a paper-coating mill. In 1923 Harrisons’ acquired the controlling interest in J G Hammond Ltd of Birmingham. The status of the company changed in 1920 to become a private limited liability company and again in 1948 to become a public limited liability company.

More can be found in the 1914 publication which is available free online in the national archives, and which was written by Sir Cecil Reeves Harrison and Hugh Guy Harrison titled The House of Harrison; being an account of the family and firm of Harrison & Sons, printers to the King