London printer FE Burman has held the first of what it hopes will be many client tours of Fleet Street and the St Bride Foundation.
The tour was also sponsored by paper supplier GF Smith and saw staff from the Financial Times’ events and magazine departments, along with FE Burman and St Bride Foundation staff, learn about the print and general history of the area, and discover the Foundation’s Inside Out Book Bindings exhibition and print workshop and library.
According to FE Burman director Paul Regan, the idea was to replace the golf course and pub-oriented networking of old with a more relevant activity that would educate about, and instill pride in, print.
“I think the thing to do with clients and partners is to take them somewhere where you’ve all got something in common and are all focused and excited, and all feel part of the same industry,” he said.
FE Burman has run similar, educational networking events before, including taking Savills staff on a National Gallery tour. “They loved that because basically once again we were talking about something we all quite like, something very visual,” said Regan.
The company hopes to run Fleet Street and St Bride Foundation tours with other clients, including the Guardian newspaper and its gallery and creative agency customers.
Regan added that he would greatly encourage other printers to follow suit. “It’s about showing people that it’s not just about ink on paper. I’m keen for other people to get people into St Bride’s – the more we all share in print, the more it stays alive,” he said. He reported that several FT workers had been so impressed with the institution that they’d since volunteered their time to help out there.
Regan added: “You can get high-up clients on a St Bride’s tour very easily, where they might not want to go on a golf day.”
The Fleet Street tour was led by actor and London tour guide John Steel, with points of interest including the tiled wall in Magpie Alley which depicts the history of print making and publishing in London, and pavement plaques denoting where each newspaper’s printing facilities once were.
The St Bride Foundation’s Bob Richardson also talked attendees through how printing presses were originally established in this area to service the nearby courthouses.
The tour of the St Bride Foundation took in the last FT stereo to be used, back in the 1980s, original sketches by Eric Gill, and one of only seven double-sided pieces of papyrus from circa 3500BC.
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