Harrild & Sons was a printing company established by Robert Harrild as R. Harrild & Co. at Farringdon Road, London in 1807. For two years the company published and printed a number of books before moving on to the manufacture of printers’ materials.
In 1809 Harrild began making printers’ materials and working as a printers engineer. When he started, the blocks of type used in printing were inked by means of ink balls, a method introduced by Caxton. Harrild is noted for having improved the process by introducing “composition rollers” which speeded up printing and became an indispensable innovation.
Harrild continued to make both balls and rollers for inking after 1810, but his new rollers vastly increased the production of newspapers, whereas the old ball method of inking limited printing to between 150 and 200 copies per hour. Harrild introduced the rollers for inking at his factory in Farringdon Road; as printers and compositors from all over England visited to see the invention, his new method quickly became known and adopted throughout the industry. Harrild himself gained great esteem and came to be considered one of the heads of the printing trade.
In 1819 Harrild moved the business to 20 Great Eastcheap. At this time the company specialised in printing books for children. During the 1820s the firm branched into commercial printing and was instrumental in manufacturing rollers for printing machines and for installing and maintaining these rollers in many of the Fleet Street newspaper offices.
By the mid-1830s Harrild’s two eldest sons, Horton and Thomas, became partners and the company became Harrild & Sons. The printing side of the business was discontinued and the firm concentrated on the manufacture of printing presses and the supply of rollers and materials.
Robert Harrild died in 1853 and his sons took control of the company which continued until at least 1914.