Happy birthday to us

5 January 2009

Hand & Eye started trading twenty-four years ago today. Some things haven’t changed since then: it was cold and snowy that day in 1985, just as it is as we look out of the window now. Our location is almost unchanged, as our first workshop was about 100 yards from where we are now.

Much is different. Back then we had a tiny space partitioned off on the top floor of a former wool warehouse. Our plant was a 10 x 15 inch Arab treadle platen and an 8x 5 inch Adana. Now we have some 1600 sq ft of converted railway arch containing two Heidelbergs and a FAG, some of the best of the final flowering of letterpress technology.

We started before the personal computer revolution, and we still have our account books with their letterpress printed rules. They made way for an IBM-clone PC at the beginning of 1987, and that too was superseded by Macs in 1990. We’re on our fourth now, an iBook G4. 

Most of the intervening years have been spent away from this area, in Clerkenwell, Bethnal Green and, for nearly fifteen years, in King’s Cross. There have been many changes around here in that time. The DLR now runs at the back of our workshop, and some of the old buildings have been converted into expensive flats and offices. Others have been demolished and replaced with more housing. The council estate opposite our front door still houses a largely Bengali population, and while it does not look too prosperous it has at least been refurbished in the time that we’ve been away.

The changes will continue, of course, and we intend to be around for a good while yet to witness them.


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