BFI Reuben Library

BFI Southbank,Belvedere Road, SE1 8XT
020 7255 1444
Waterloo LU
Open: Tues-Sat 10.30am-7pm


The BFI library has a long history, and was for many years kept a secret by the film students and media researchers who were its stalwart patrons. The library underwent a transformation in 2014, acquiring an additional name (‘Reuben’) and moving to the central complex of the British Film Institute on the Southbank.

The new library remains the major national research collection specialising in British film and television, but with considerable international holdings. The collection includes books, journals, press cuttings and digitalised materials which are available to view or can be ordered in advance from the library’s vast archives. Established in 1934, the library’s collection spans the history of the moving image, from pre-cinema to the present, and this can be easily searched using their collections database.


The new space is much more appealing with subtle lighting and individual study areas but the main transformation is in the library’s ethos which is now open to all. As the reader services librarian, Sarah Currant explains:

“We actively want everybody, regardless of who they are, to have access to materials that are as well-thumbed as they are beautiful, well-known as they are arcane”.

Visit the BFI’s website or just call in during opening hours to find out more about this incredible library, as well as the BFI National Archive and Special Collections. BFI Southbank is a four-screen cinema venue, showing over 2,000 contemporary and classic films each year. View over 1,000 hours of free film and TV in the Mediatheque, or visit the BFI Shop, which boasts an incredible range of books, DVDs and gifts.

Images © BFI (Morton)
2015 BLL_COVER_2014

This is an extract from our forthcoming edition of Book Lovers’ London.








Harrington & Squires Ltd

The Corridor, 136a Fortess Road,
Tufnell Park, NW5 2HP
020 7267 1500
Mon-Fri 10am-6pm

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Harrington & Squires is the brain child of two graphic design graduates, Chrissie Charlton of Hornsey College of Art and Vicky Fullick of St Martin’s  School of Art and later of the London College of Communication. They started their careers during the ‘hands on’ design sensibility of the 70’ and 80’s and during the more sterile world of desk top publishing in the 90’s, wanted to return to the tactile environment of traditional letterpress printing.

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They started the business in the corner of Chrissie’s design practice studio in 2002 and in 2004 stumbled upon a recently closed art gallery which is without doubt one of the narrowest shop fronts in London.  The three galley-like floors are probably too narrow for a conventional shop, but suit their requirements for a workshop and small retail space perfectly.

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Part of Chrissie and Vicky’s time is spent teaching one day letterpress printing workshops for up to two students at a time with lunch thrown in. The classes show how to use the famous Adana letterpress printing machines – designing the text, filling what is called the ‘metal chase area’ with the selected type and blocks and then choosing the inks and setting up the press for the printing of cards, poems and in some cases small pamphlets.  There is something unique about the look and feel of things printed on a letterpress.  As Chrissie explained:

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‘Letterpress produces a unique impression on the paper called a ‘bite’ and people really like that texture to the finished product.’

A good deal of the work of their students is carefully kept to illustrate the possibilities to other students beginning the workshop. They proudly show me a book of poems about wood that has been printed using wooden and metal type and then coptic bound in wooden covers, produced as one of their own personal projects.  Another small book of wood of a different kind, is a commission for a hand bound collection of poems concerning the client’s amorous adventures, thankfully without illustration.

Vicky and Chrissie also dedicate a good deal of time designing and printing all kinds of cards, letterheads, business cards and invitations for clients.  This might sound like the work of a standard printer, but Vicky makes clear:

 ‘We’re not jobbing printers as we usually don’t print other people’s designs and the work is very different from digital or litho printing. Our customers understand they are getting something unique’.

Vicky and Chrissie often do the initial design digitally, bearing in mind that it is then set in metal using the type they have in stock.  Once the digital proofs are approved by the client, the painstaking work of hand setting, locking up in the metal chase and preparing the press is undertaken.  The actual operation of these hand-driven, old machines, can be slow but very satisfying with each piece of paper placed in the press by hand for each impression taken.

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The final part of the Harrington & Squires jigsaw is the production of their own unique cards, fridge magnets and calendars that are sold from their small shop as well as online and through quite a few retail outlets.  This side of the business has really benefited from being on a busy shopping street with a regular contingent of locals popping in to commission cards and other work.

The original Bob Harrington and Horace Squires, who were renowned type compositors and teachers at Hornsey College of Art, would no doubt doff their caps in the direction of Vicky and Chrissie as they keep these valued skills alive.  For those interested in their work or taking a class, their website is an excellent first point of call.

2015 BLL_COVER_2014

This is an extract from our forthcoming edition of Book Lovers’ London.









Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977)


Leicester Place WC2, Sculptor John Doubleday, Bronze, 1981

On 4th March 1975 Charlie Chaplin received his long overdue knighthood.  The great actor, director and writer is commemorated with a monument just outside The Prince Charles Cinema.  Here’s our mini-biography taken from London’s Monuments:

Charlie Chaplin was born to theatrical parents, he made his entrance in 1889 in Walworth, London and appeared in music hall as a child.  His family life was unstable and they were forced into the workhouse when their father abandoned them.  Chaplin was always a natural comic and as a teenager found acting work which eventually took him to America.  It was while touring the States in 1913 that Chaplin was spotted by the movie producer Mack Sennett and began his career in comic silent movies.  Chaplin was intelligent and ambitious and within a year he had begun writing and directing his own films – slowing the pace and developing characters.  During this period he made The Tramp (1915), Easy Street (1917) and A Dog’s Life (1918) and became the first movie star to sign a million-dollar contract in 1918.  Chaplin’s success was only matched by his ambition and within a year he had established a film studio with other film stars of the day – United Artists.  Directing and producing his own films, Chaplin was one of the few actors to make a successful transition to talking pictures.  Despite having very little formal education he formed friendships with some of the leading intellectuals of his day including H. G. Wells, Harold Laski and Albert Einstein.  Chaplin was a socialist with strong sympathies for Soviet Russia and made some of the most overtly political films of the period – Modern Times (1936) and the Great Dictator (1938).  During the war he devoted his energies to Soviet war relief and the campaign for the opening of a second front in Europe.  With the rise of anti-communism and the start of the Cold War, Chaplin fell under suspicion by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI and in 1952 Chaplin’s right to enter the United States was revoked and he became an exile in Europe.  He made several films in Europe – none of which were distributed in the US – and was only allowed back into the country in 1972 to receive an award.  Chaplin died in Switzerland on Christmas Day 1977 having become one of the most successful and controversial figures of the 20th century.  This monument has avoided any political controversy, representing Chaplin in his early days as a loveable tramp with the inscription ‘The comic genius who gave pleasure to so many’.


This is an extract from the latest edition of London’s Monuments, which features all of London’s major public monuments. Available from our website at £2.00 off the RRP (recommended retail price)

This is an extract from the latest edition of London's Monuments, which features all of London's major public monuments. Available from our website at £2.00 of the RRP (recommended retail price)

The Wyvern Bindery

56-58 Clerkenwell Road, EC1M 5PX
020 7490 7899
Open: Mon-Fri 9am-5pm

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The Wyern Bindery is run with ebullient charm by Mark Winstanley, who founded the company with two colleagues (Hannah More and Rosie Gray) in 1990.  They moved from their workshop to this shop on Clerkenwell Road a few years later and have continued to thrive despite lots of changes in the industry and the area, as Mark explained:

“We used to do a lot of magazine and legal document binding for all the big legal practices in the area, but this has dropped off.  Similarly the market for photographers’ portfolios has declined with the internet and digital photography but we still do a few for discerning snappers…”

The business has adapted and now has eight full time binders using their traditional bookbinding skills in all kinds of ways including the making of bespoke boxes, film set props, unique photo albums and a great deal of work for architectural practices – keen to present their cutting edge projects in traditionally bindings.  There is also a fair amount of dissertation binding and as if on cue a young student pops in to collect her cloth bound and gold embossed Phd thesis.

There are always jobs that are particularly memorable and Mark is eager to show the three volumes of the 18th century Vitruvius Britannicus whose tatty leather bands and faded labels Wyvern are replacing with loving care.  Likewise, the vast ledgers of Savile Row’s oldest tailors, Henry Poole & Co., account for the sartorial extravagance of kings and are being rebound in green felt with due reverence by Mark and his team.

In recent years the workshop has shrunk a little, owing to a re-structuring of the building, but there is still considerable space and the change has only added to the shop’s cluttered charm.  There are quite a few antique book presses scattered among the work stations, many of which were made in long closed clerkenwell workshops.  Hopefully this little oasis of skill will remain for many years to come…