The Hayloft Press Archive

Scope and Content

The collection includes a large amount of correspondence, including letters both sent and received by David Wishart. The correspondence shows the type and scale of work being produced at the Hayloft Press with correspondents including Hayloft Press customers and the proprieters of other small printing presses. There is also correspondence with the poet Phoebe Hesketh, who had one of her collections of poems printed at the Hayloft Press.

Also of importance is the research material on printing gathered by David Wishart. This material contains information on the technical aspects of printing and provides evidence of David Wishart's fascination with printing non-European languages. Samples of work and designs for printed materials give further insight into the printing process and the activities of the Hayloft Press. Finally, there is a small amount of material relating to the financial side of the business including invoices for orders and some bank statements. However the collection does not include any detailed financial records.

The collection is thus a good source of information for anyone interested in the work of small printing presses in the 1980s and '90s, as well as the history of printing in general.

Administrative / Biographical History

David Wishart, mathematician and printer, was born in Stockton-on-Tees in 1928. He went up to St Andrew's to read chemistry but changed to mathematics; he later won a scholarship to Princeton. He became a lecturer in statistics and mathematics at the University of Birmingham in 1958, served as Chair of the School of Mathematics from 1973 to 1977 and again in 1979, and was a member of the University Senate. David Wishart was a man of wide-ranging interests and as well as his work at the University he was also heavily involved in the world of small press printing. This interest arose from his editorial work for the Royal Statistical Society. In 1966 he bought a press and some type, and over time this developed into his own private press, the Hayloft Press, located in the loft over the garage at his home. What initially started out as a hobby turned into a one-man business, especially after his retirement from the University in 1988, when he had more time to devote to printing. As well as running the Hayloft Press, David Wishart was also an active member of the Birmingham Bibliographical Society, the Birmingham Chamber Music Society, the Wynkyn de Worde Society and the British Publishing Society.

At the Hayloft Press David Wishart printed books and pamphlets in small editions of between one hundred to three hundred copies. These publications usually incorporated either wood-block illustrations from his collection or specially commissioned work by artists. Subjects ranged from a bicentennial reprinting of Thomas Paine's essay The Last Crisis to A Ring of Leaves, a collection of poems by the Lancashire poet Phoebe Hesketh. As well as this published material Wishart also produced printed ephemera such as stationery, Christmas cards and leaflets. This material was produced to order for friends and colleagues or alternatively just for the pleasure of printing.

David Wishart was especially interested in exotic founts and the printing of non-European languages. He built up a substantial collection of Egyptian hieroglyphic, Greek, Russian and mathematical founts and carried out extensive research into their use.

Sources: Hugh Burkhardt, obituary of David Wishart, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series D (The Statistician), vol. 52, no. 4 (2003), pp. 685-7; John Randle, 'David Wishart, 1928-2003', Matrix, vol. 23 (2003), p. 56.


When arranging the collection David Wishart's original filing structure has been maintained as far as this can be ascertained. Some of the material did not appear to be arranged in any clear structure and so this has been grouped together according to function. The collection has been divided into six series. Although the material arrived at the Library in two accessions it all derived from the same place and creator and so has been treated as a single archive.

The archive is arranged as follows:

  • HAY/1: Correspondence
  • HAY/2: Hayloft Press Accounting Records
  • HAY/3: Publicity Material and Order Forms
  • HAY/4: Research Material on the Printing Process
  • HAY/5: Productions of the Hayloft Press
  • HAY/6: Bill Pardoe Material

Access Information

The archive is open to any accredited reader. This finding aid may contain personal data about living individuals. Under Section 33 of the Data Protection Act 1988 (DPA), the John Rylands University Library (JRUL) holds the right to process such personal data for research purposes. The Data Protection (Processing of Sensitive Personal Data) Order 2000 enables the JRUL to process personal sensitive data for research purposes. In accordance with the DPA the JRUL has made every attempt to ensure that all personal data has been processed fairly, lawfully and accurately.

Individuals have the right to make a request to see data relating to them held by the JRUL which falls under the provisions of the DPA. Access requests must be made formally in accordance with the provisions set out in the DPA, and all enquiries should be directed to the University's Data Protection Officer.

Acquisition Information

The material was selected and transferred to the John Rylands Univesity Library by Allen Freer, long-time friend of David and Eva Wishart. It arrived at the library in two tranches. The bulk arrived in Dec 2005 and the remainder in Jul 2007.

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.

Many items in 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 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 University Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Appraisal Information

The material was appraised during cataloguing and duplicate copies of items were removed.

Custodial History

This material was stored by David Wishart at his home and remained there with his family before being transferred to the John Rylands University Library under the guidance of Allan Freer.


No accruals are expected.

Related Material

The JRUL holds the papers of Allen Freer (ref. GB 133 AFR), who in 1985 commissioned David Wishart to publish a collection of poems by Phoebe Hesketh, A Ring of Leaves, to mark the poet's 75th birthday; Freer himself provided illustrations for this volume. He also arranged the publication by the Hayloft Press of Fifteen Poems by the rural writer and poet H.J. Massingham in 1987.

The JRUL also holds the papers of Margaret Pilkington (ref. GB 133 PIL). These include prints of some of Margaret Pilkington's wood engravings, which were commissioned by the Whitworth Art Gallery from David Wishart in 1991.


Hugh Burkhardt, obituary of David Wishart, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series D (The Statistician), vol. 52, no. 4 (2003), pp. 685-7.

John Randle, 'David Wishart, 1928-2003', Matrix, vol. 23 (2003), p. 56.

David Wishart, 'On Hieroglyphic Types', Matrix, vol. 6 (1986), pp. 117-29.

David Wishart, 'The Printing of Mathematics', Matrix, vol. 8 (1988), pp. 149-57.

David Wishart, 'On Hieroglyphic Types: a Postscript', Matrix, vol. 10 (1990), pp. 151-7.

David Wishart, 'Hieratic Types', Matrix, vol. 14 (1994), pp. 148-53.

David Wishart, 'Exotics at the OUP', Matrix, vol. 21 (2001), pp. 62-84.

Corporate Names