Last week I led a walk exploring the drovers’ route from the Royal Agricultural Hall, Islington to Smithfield Market. This took in the New River, the history of Sadler’s Wells, Spa Green and especially the impact of the movement of meat and water on the design and development of the route along St John’s Street to Smithfield.
I will be leading this walk again on Saturday 26th September at 2pm, starting at the Business Design Centre in Islington. Find out more and book at Open City
There can be few more delightful ways of spending a Saturday than in the print workshop at the St Bride’s Foundation just off Fleet Street. St Bride’s includes not only the print workshop, but also a museum of design and print; a theatre; a library (as well as a disused swimming pool). A day spent learning the letterpress printing process is a reminder of a time when print was made of lead and every action had to be carefully callibrated and calculated. To set the scene, here are pictures of two of the printing presses.
My time was spent with the rather more modest Adana machine which is designed to produce letterpress printing at about A6. The process of getting from type to print is difficult, demanding and very enjoyable. This is the Adana. In this case blue ink is being applied to the ink plate. However, first some illustrations of the process of putting together the type.
This box contains a selection of individual letters all made of lead together with ‘leads’, the strips of lead applied between each row of type which leads to the current term leading to refer to the space between lines of print. Individual letters are selected and then placed in reverse order and with a mirror image into a callibrated tray.
Each line of type is assembled and held together loosely by the leading. A frame made of steel is then placed around the line of type. Blocks of metal are then inserted until the line of type is strongly bolted into place.
This is then placed in the Adana and following the inking of the ink pad, a single sheet of paper is inserted and printed.
The result can be seen below.
The process was delicate, produced modest results but was very satisfying. As the excellent teacher pointed out, mistakes were allowed and encouraged and could all be corrected. There was no need to be concerned with software failures or printers that did not work, every action could be observed, understood and used. Here are some of the wood typefaces just waiting to be used.
Two new roofs are revealing themselves at King’s Cross Station. The engine shed nears completion with photovoltaic panels adhering the glass and the concourse and ticket office are becoming increasingly visible.
Work is due to start tomorrow on the restoration of Golden Lane Leisure Centre. The Centre contains the only public swimming pool in the City. The campaign to resist its closure led to 850 responses to the consultation which convinced the Corporation (which owns it) to invest £2.6 million on the restoration. The changes have been controversial with the architects originally proposing to fill in the space between the pool and the badminton court. There will now be changes to this listed building but of a modest nature. Meanwhile, every swim now requires a bus trip up to the west end.