Most clubs constantly change and evolve. We’re no different as our story below shows – but, after more than 30 years, the club is now in its strongest ever position. We have a vibrant and growing member base, an active Committee and very sound finances.
Back In the 1980s, Solent University had a faculty covering arts and design that taught a Higher Certificate in Book Conservation. This was something of a rarity as professional training in book crafts was only available in a small number of centres.
So the roots of the club go back to 1987 when a group of past students were permitted to continue using their facilities. When this privilege was withdrawn in 1990 the group’s future existence depended on renting a room for the permanent storage and usage of their equipment. Luckily they found a school outbuilding in Alresford they were able to use for two years and during this period they formed the Southern Bookcrafts Club. Redevelopment of the school meant a further search for premises.
Two members who worked at the Ordnance Survey persuaded their Sports and Social Club to let us use a painting/pottery room that had fallen into disuse. Crucially, they were also happy to welcome non-OS colleagues to the facility. This became a solid base for the club for ten years until all activities ceased because of asbestos problems in the building.
We were fortunate to find another small room to rent on the Winnall Farm trading estate in Winchester. At this stage we still only had six members but this new base enabled us to slowly expand the membership.
2011 was an important year when a new and very influential member joined the club. Maureen Duke, BEM, was one of the best-known bookbinders in Europe, having served both as President and Chairman of the UK’s Society of Bookbinders. She became President of the club and acted as an invaluable mentor in a project to expand the range and availability of activities.
In 2013 Maureen was instrumental in helping us to move to our current larger premises on the same trading estate. Over the next five years she continued to help support and develop the club to its current strong position. So it was with the deepest regret that we learned of the death of Maureen on 28th October 2018. She is sorely missed and the club will be forever grateful for her outstanding legacy.