T C Thomp­son and Sons sold the grand­ly-titled ‘Thomp­son-British Auto­mat­ic Plat­en’, made in Bux­ton Street, Man­ches­ter. While the machine com­pet­ed with Hei­del­bergs, it still has a group of enthu­si­as­tic fol­low­ers. One par­tic­u­lar fea­ture is that the ink­ing rollers have a cog at one end which links into a bike chain on the run­ner — this guar­an­tees that there will be no slur — ink being dragged, rather than rolled, over the forme.

In 1929 the Sales Direc­tor of Thomp­son’s — Mr Holt — saw the new Hei­del­berg; and sug­gest­ed that the firm should switch from their hand-fed ‘Gem’ platens to an auto­mat­i­cal­ly fed machine. The new machine was first exhib­it­ed in 1937.

Bernard Ben­nett of Coven­try offers the infor­ma­tion that the machine pic­tured is not the orig­i­nal Thomp­son. The first ver­sion was effec­tive­ly a clone of the Hei­del­berg — Hei­del­berg did­n’t like this and were suc­cess­ful in a patent infringe­ment claim and almost all of those orig­i­nal Thomp­sons were destroyed. By 1940 around four remained. Bernard also says that post World War 2, Thomp­son platens were made at the Alvis car plant in Coven­try.

The com­pa­ny made the mod­est claim that theirs was ‘the best auto plat­en in the world’, and sup­port­ers say that han­dling of paper stock is unpar­al­leled. Pub­lic­i­ty showed that 0.04mm (bank) to 0.94mm (board) paper could be auto­mat­i­cal­ly fed.

Tes­ti­mo­ni­als from Hol­land stat­ed “…The sat­is­fac­tion exceed­ed our expec­ta­tions; par­tic­u­lar­ly the feed and deliv­ery. We con­sid­er this a great improve­ment on the…(German machine).” Thomp­son must have been acute­ly aware of the chal­lenge from Hei­del­berg.

In the 1980s platens were built by two men, being built in batch­es of two.  A third man inspect­ed them.

The firm trad­ed until the ear­ly 1990s hav­ing made 6,000 platens, spares and parts being sold to a firm in Birm­ing­ham.  The premis­es were demol­ished short­ly after.

Bill Elligett has post­ed a page about the Thomp­son at his site