Michael Passmore, head of one the last of the UK’s print dynasties, has died aged 90.
He has joined the family company, which had been founded by his great grandfather in 1844, as a training letterpress operator in 1948. He rose through sales and estimating to become managing director of the Alabaster Passmore and Sons business in Tovil, near Maidstone, in 1963.
He introduced the factory to litho printing and in the 1980s to heatset web offset printing with Albert, Baker Perkins and Harris heatset presses. Unfortunately the factory was built into a hillside that meant operation on several levels, which limited efficiency and restricted the potential for further expansion (it is now a housing development).
This led in 1982 to the acquisition of Ambassador Press in Radlett, equipped with short cut off Solna web presses to cope with a regular contract for an evangelical magazine. It made Passmore International one of the leading printers of medium run web offset magazines, especially for business publications and earning the Queen’s Award for Export Achievement.
Meetings were held in a boardroom at Tovil, overlooked by portraits of the previous Passmore generations. In 1990 Michael retired leaving three children, Chris, Stella and Stephen to take on the business while he set up a small letterpress shop at his house in Barming, just a few miles from the Tovil factory. He ran this for a further 25 years.
Michael had been an enthusiastic supporter of the industry’s associations: the Young Master Printers and Trafalgar Club; the BPIF and Stationers’ Company; Wynkyn de Worde, the Institute of Print, National Printing Heritage Trust, British Printing Society and Kent Printers Guild.