Founded in 1837 by a group of senior figures active in the Victorian book trade, led by John Dickinson (the paper manufacturer of Basildon Bond fame) who donated the land for the retirement housing at The Retreat (originally The Booksellers' Retreat) near Kings Langley, and headed up the fundraising necessary for its completion.  The terrace of seven houses for 'decaying Booksellers and their spouses' opened in 1846 and this Victorian Almshouse forms the basis of the accommodation today, although it has expanded to be able to house up to forty people.

In 2016 The Book Trade Charity merged with Matthew Hodder Charitable Trust, and with Bookbinders Charitable Society which brought into BTBS and additional 22 flats (Bookbinders Cottages) in Whetstone, London N20.  The additional cash reserves have allowed the Board to take the decision to demolish two blocks of four flats which were unsuitable for renovation, and build four blocks which will provide office space, a community area and seventeen new flats and bed-sits, primarily to provide affordable accommodation for young people coming into the Book Trade. The development should be completed early in 2021.

Milestones in our history:
1837: Founded as The Booksellers Provident Institution
1846: The Booksellers Retreat at Kings Langley, Herts, opened to qualifying residents (on land donated by John Dickinson)
1962: The Booksellers Provident Retreat, The Booksellers Provident Institution and the National Book Trade Provident Society merge
1965: The first phase of 8 studio bungalows built at The Retreat
1969: A further 8 bungalows added
1975: A 7-year ‘Bookrest’ Appeal launched to raise £500,000 (the appeal ran for 18 years…)
1978: Another phase of development at The Retreat, with 8 more bungalows constructed
1992: As a Registered Friendly Society, we were obliged to deregister from The Charity Commission
1994: David Hicks appointed to the new role of Chief Executive, to take the charity forward
1998: Grants expenditure rises to £54,000 (from £14,000 in 1987); 8 bungalows upgraded
2002: The Foyle Centre opens, supported by a donation from The Foyle Foundation, with 4 new flats, and a further 4 bungalow upgrades completed
2003: Our 8 London Marathon runners raise over £16,000
2004: Four and a half tons of books donated from London Book Fair raise over £25,000
2008: The final ‘Walkies’ event around London takes place
2009: New name – The Book Trade Charity (BTBS) prior to reregistering with The Charity Commission, and 4 bungalows are rebuilt as townhouses
2010: A Registered Charity again, £100,000 Grants budget and a total of 36 dwellings at The Retreat
2011: New staff, and £60,000 raised from donated books
2015: Merger with Matthew Hodder Charitable Trust, bringing £1m of new money
2016: Merger with Bookbinders Charitable Society – bringing 22 flats at Whetstone, and over £1m
2018: Partnership with PenguinRandomHouse to provide accommodation for participants in their work experience rolling programme of 2-weekly residencies
2019: work commenced at Whetstone, demolishing 8 flats, to construct 17 new, purpose-built bedsits and flats to offer affordable housing for young people (utilising most of BTBS reserves)
2020: Covid-19 Hardship Fund for Booksellers raises £380,000; gives £110,000 in grants (July 2020)

The Book Trade Charity (BTBS): History statistics: 1994 - 2019: 25 years of progress.




Income (total):



·         Donations:

£   21,947


·         Events Income:

£     3,861

£   80,301

·         Investment Income:

£   61,602

£   21,071

·         Rental Income:

£   18,371


·         Other (legacies & restricted fundraising):


£   97,363




Expenditure (total):



·         Publicity, fundraising & events:


£   59,855

·         Grants paid & grants admin:

£     17,765


·         Residential accommodation:



·         Other (restricted grants & Governance):


£   22,080




Grants awarded:



Net worth: