A RETIRED York businessman who ran the country’s last wood type factory has died, aged 78.

Jim De Little, who was a founder member of Ebor Round Table as well as a past president of the Rotary Club of York, died of Alzheimers at his home in Broadway West, Fulford.

His widow, Rosemary, said he joined the family business, RD De Little, after leaving St Peter’s School and completing National Service.

The Press reported in 1999 how the factory, based in Vine Street, off Bishopthorpe Road, created wooden block type which was used to print a million posters across the world.

It could produce type up to three feet tall and, in its heyday, it employed 28 people. The firm bought French hornbeam or Canadian maple, because of its hardy quality, and cut it into pieces that were left to season in the timber yard.

It was then cut into type size, and one side was polished. The type was finished by hand and dipped in oil to harden it off.

The factory closed down in 1999, when its machinery went down to a type museum in Stockwell, London.

Mrs De Little said the Rotary Club of York had awarded her husband a Paul Harris Fellowship in recognition of his outstanding fundraising work, including many years’ involvement in the Dragon Boat race on the River Ouse.

He became chairman of the Ebor 41 Club and was also on the fundraising committee at the Cheshire Home at Alne, near Easingwold.

He also received an award for giving blood on scores of occasions.

The couple had two sons, James and Simon, and two grandchildren, Alice and Maya.

Mrs De Little praised nurses from Hospice@Home – a service provided by St Leonard’s Hospice – as well as district nurses, who had enabled her husband to stay at home until his death. “Their care for him was wonderful,” she said.

The funeral will be private but there will be a service of remembrance at 1.30pm on February 12 at St Paul’s Church, Heslington, when the collection will benefit Hospice@Home, the Parkinson’s Disease Society and the church itself.

The family is requesting that people should not wear mourning clothes.