8 December 2016 - The Book Trade Charity (BTBS) announces merger with The Bookbinders Charitable Society.

The Book Trade Charity (BTBS) which is based near Kings Langley, Herts and has provided housing there since 1845, announces merger with The Bookbinders Charitable Society.

Two of the oldest charitable institutions in the UK book trade have combined their resources in order to provide more effective and efficient services to a wider range of beneficiaries.

The Book Trade Charity (formerly The Book Trade Benevolent Society) founded in 1837, a Registered Charity since 2009, provides grants to over 120 individuals and families each year; offering regular monthly support and one-off welfare grants, covering issues such as illness, disability, debt, redundancy and those in carer situations, and recently for educational purposes. Merging with the Matthew Hodder Charitable Trust in 2015, the additional incoming resources meant it was able to widen its scope from purely welfare grants to fulfil its charitable objectives in terms of education, training and encouragement of younger people to enter the trade, as well as supporting initiatives which encourage the appreciation of books and reading amongst younger people – including Authors-in-schools projects and literary festivals. It has housing at its base near Kings Langley (The Retreat) for around 40 people who currently work, or have previously worked, in the trade and provides accommodation for all ages. The original almshouse dates back to 1845, built on land donated by John Dickinson, but the charity has made it a priority to keep the services it provides responsive to the needs of a constantly changing industry.

The Bookbinders Charitable Society was founded in 1830 and has supported past employees from bookbinding, book production and allied trades; until the merger with BTBS it was a Friendly Society Benevolent Fund. Currently it has twenty-one flats in Whetstone, Barnet, and a modest list of beneficiaries. It is hoped by integrating with BTBS that more people who qualify for support and assistance can be reached and while bookbinding is not the manufacturing industry it once was, contributing to the lack of demand on the Society in recent years, it is a profession which is seeing a resurgence as more of a ‘boutique’ industry rather than mass-production. As such, there is huge interest in the art of the book and demand for training and apprenticeships in bookbinding, as well as book conservation and restoration. Bookbinding also provides opportunities for training and rehabilitation, such as an independent project for wounded ex-service veterans, and it is hoped that supporting appropriate people into self-employment may be a direction that could be explored further to the benefit of the industry as well as the individuals.

‘We recognise that there are many eligible people who have worked in the trade, but do not realise that these venerable benevolent funds could be helping with the very real problems, both financial and housing-related, that they are facing. We hope that with the combined strength of these charities will enable more individuals in need to be reached; they have served the industries, now it is our turn to help when they encounter difficult personal circumstances.’ David Hicks, Chief Executive of The Book Trade Charity.


The Book Trade Charity (BTBS) achieves more than its resources would seem to allow. It traces its roots back to 1837 and has gained a reputation for probity, openness and fairness built over nearly 180 years of providing care, support and encouragement to individuals and families in social and welfare need who are connected with the book trade. Additionally, it uses the trade’s networks and groups to bolster and maximize the impact of its activities, working alongside other providers too, to reach out with programmes of work which are relevant to the business community. In October 2016, regulatory approval from the FCA (the body which incorporates the Registry of Friendly Societies) was received to permit the BCS committee’s agreement to merge with BTBS, having received assurances about how their resources are to be used for the benefit of the trade.


The Book Trade Charity is best known locally for its booksales, held at The Retreat five times a year, selling books donated by publishers, wholesalers, distributors and literary agents at remarkably cheap prices – each sale offers over 20,000 titles, fiction, non-fiction and children’s books.


For further information contact David Hicks, email:


Timothy Lambert, Executive Chairman: 30 November 2016