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Club History

In the 1980s the Southampton Institute of Higher Education (which later became Southampton Solent University) had a faculty covering arts and design which provided training leading to a Higher Certificate in Book Conservation. Such professional training in book crafts was then and remains available only in a small number of centres. In 1987, a group of past students were permitted to continue using the facilities for their own amateur projects.

This privilege was withdrawn in 1990 and the group hired a room in a school outbuilding in Alresford one day a week. We were able to use the school’s small collection of standing bookbinding tools and we were permitted to store our own tools and materials there.
At this stage the group of about six constituted itself as the Southern Bookcrafts Club. This arrangement continued for nearly two years until the outbuilding was required for redevelopment.

Two Club members were also members of the Ordnance Survey’s Sports and Social Clubs. The OS clubs’ notional clubhouse consisted of rooms in a listed house on the Survey’s headquarters site. One of these rooms, formerly used by a painting and pottery group, had fallen into disuse. The two bookbinders made a bid for that room and the Sports and Social Clubs welcomed our non-OS colleagues as Associate Members. Our good fortune continued on moving from Alresford in that we were able to exchange unused stocks and equipment from the painting and pottery room for the school’s standing bookbinding tools (no longer required).
The Southern Bookcrafts Club greatly enjoyed the hospitality of the Ordnance Survey Sports and Social Clubs in that small room for ten years until all club activities were withdrawn there because of asbestos problems in the building.

Again we were fortunate in that we found another small room on a trading estate in Winnall in Winchester. The landlord refurbished the
room and assisted us in the move; we continued with Club membership of six which grew slowly over the next ten years.
A key new member joined the Club in 2011. Maureen Duke is one of the best-known bookbinders in Europe, having served both as President and Chairman of the UK’s Society of Bookbinders. She became Southern Bookcrafts Club President and acted as an invaluable mentor in a project to expand the range and availability of activities. In 2013 the Club moved to larger premises on the same trading estate with the same supportive landlord. There we have established a very well resourced bindery where up to ten people can work at any one time, allowing group training, and daily access to a greater membership.