Papers of the Gospel Literature Service

  • Reference
      GB 133 GLS
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      0.5 lm
  • Location
      Collection available at University Archive and Records Centre, main University Library.

Scope and Content

This collection consists of archive material relating to activities of the Gospel Literature Service in Bombay, India, between 1942 and 1970. A number of items relate to the administration of the company including minutes, accounts, details of publications, the production process and machinery, and information relating to staff and the departments they worked in.

The papers include the correspondence of William Thompson covering the period between 1946 and 1998. William Thompson became General Manager of the Gospel Literature Service and the correspondence contains details of his working relationship with a number of colleagues, detailed information about their working practices and the publications produced by the Service. These papers provide an insight into their working lives and experiences in India and the United Kingdom.

The collection contains a number of publications produced by the Gospel Literature Service and other publishers of Gospel and Christian literature. There are papers relating to local events the staff attended and were involved in, a small number of photographs showing staff and premises, and a company history outlining the development of their work.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Gospel Literature Service was established in Bombay in 1942 by Wilf Durham, a printer from Gloucester who came to India to print and distribute Gospel literature. During the war years Durham visited military camps and urged new believers in the Forces to seek out fellow Christians and form into teams. He taught them how to form Bible Studies groups and encouraged the distribution of Gospel tracts.

At this time there was an embargo on importing Christian literature as the ships were needed to transport soldiers and arms. Durham began to print tracts and the teams were supplied with parcels of literature to distribute. He also wrote and printed a magazine called Active Service to encourage young believers in the Forces.

After the war Durham continued the work of preparing and printing Gospel and Christian literature with a view to reach the wider population of India, printing in several languages. The premises were expanded and new machinery was acquired with advances in production. Durham provided training in a variety of tasks and formed a number of departments.

Wilf Durham died in 1951 but the work of the Gospel Literature Service continued and a number of staff continued the training process. By this time the Gospel Literature Service was publishing under the name 'GLS Press'. Paul Marsh provided training to the accounting department, Fred Tiessen taught stock taking procedures and William Thompson organised proof reading and book lay-out and became General Manager. Ian Hall worked with the process department and Allan Vincent taught the process department how to make colour separation negatives. John Warner, a missionary from Gujarat, taught letter press printing and Mrs. Liddel worked with the accounting department and later ran the bookshop.

In 1959 the Gospel Literature Service moved from its original venue to a new premises of 3000 square feet in Udyog Bhavan, Worli. Part of the old premises was converted into a bookshop which expanded the opportunities for marketing and selling publications. Annual catalogues of publications were printed and in addition calendars, posters and stationery were produced.

William Thompson retired as General Manager in 1965 and this role was taken over by former camera man Mr. M. E. Eapen.

With the further increase in production and machinery a larger premises was rented in Ghatkopar, a suburb of Bombay. By this time the company had acquired through donation two Heidelberg offset machines, a Mercedes letterpress machine and a Linotype.

The main objectives of the Gospel Literature Service was the printing of Gospel literature, the publication of Christian literature and the printing of Christian literature for other Christian bodies, including thousands of Gospels in several languages for the Pocket Testament League, publications for the Bible Society and an order of Chinese Gospels. Secular material such as school text books and medical literature were also published to support their primary work.


  • Administrative and financial papers
  • Correspondence of William Thompson and related papers
  • Catalogues and publications
  • Items relating to local events and outreach activities
  • Photographic material

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

The collection includes material which is subject to the Data Protection Act 1998. Under Section 33 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), The University of Manchester Library (UML) holds the right to process personal data for research purposes. The Data Protection (Processing of Sensitive Personal Data) Order 2000 enables the UML to process sensitive personal data for research purposes. In accordance with the DPA, UML has made every attempt to ensure that all personal and sensitive personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately. Users of the archive are expected to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998, and will be required to sign a form acknowledging that they will abide by the requirements of the Act in any further processing of the material by themselves.

Open parts of this collection, and the catalogue descriptions, may contain personal data about living individuals. Some items in this collection may be closed to public inspection in line with the requirements of the DPA. Restrictions/closures of specific items will be indicated in the catalogue.

Acquisition Information

Papers were received from William Thompson

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Custodial History

The papers were in the possession of William Thompson.


None expected.

Related Material

Correspondence between William Thompson and the Echoes of Service staff in Bath are contained in the Echoes of Service Papers.


The Story of the Gospel Literature Service (Bombay: GLS, c1965)

Geographical Names