The official opening of the Stationers’ Company’s new archive room and reading room took place on 10th November 2017, and represented a milestone in improving access to its unique and priceless archive, both for members of the Company and the general public. Thanks to the generosity of Liverymen Duncan Spence and Amy McKee, and additional funds from the Company, there is now a magnificent new facility for all to use including an archive room and a reading room. The whole complex is called the Tokefield Centre in commemoration of the then Clerk, George Tokefield, who in 1666 transported the Company’s records in a wheelbarrow out beyond the reach of the Great Fire of London thus saving them.
Liveryman Sarah Mahurter, Manager, University Archives and Special Collections Centre at University of the Arts London, undertook the project management to relocate the historic Archive from an inaccessible upstairs room to the oldest book warehouse building in London which forms one end of the Company’s garden. Workstreams were identified to ensure a successful planning application with support from Historic England, to build the archive room with a climate controlled environment and to develop a reading room which could be effectively used by a diverse range of users, in line with national standards.
Ruth Frendo, the Stationers’ Company archivist, said “The Stationers’ Archive is already known as a key resource to historians of the book trade. However, it also holds a wealth of records whose potential is yet to be explored. As custodians of the records we have inherited through the care and dedication of our forebears, we have a serious responsibility to maintain these documents for future exploration. Through the development of this, purpose-built storage facility, and a reading room which will provide unprecedented access to its Archive, the Stationers’ Company is demonstrating that it is whole-heartedly embracing this responsibility.
William Alden, Clerk to the Company said “Widening access to Stationers’ Hall for educational purposes is a critical objective of the Stationers’ Company. The opening of the Tokefield Centre marks the completion of the first phase of a broader Hall development programme, which we hope to complete by 2023, the 350th anniversary of the building of the Hall.”