Printing in the Thames Gateway was a diverse and important industry based throughout the West Ham area.

It comprised scores of firms which ranged from small craft shops producing high-quality products for niche markets (The Curwen Press) to large manufactories for business stationery, serving mass domestic and foreign markets (Lamson Paragon).

The location of these companies attracted ancillary services such as local producers of printing ink (Dane & Co. and Johnstone & Cumber).

By the 20th century, the great majority of printing firms operated as closed shops. This meant that recruitment was effectively in the hands of the trade unions, or chapels led by the father or shop steward who would present an approved candidate to a firm which had notified them of a vacancy.

Any attempt to circumvent this system on the part of the management would be likely to result in strike action and perhaps also ????????