Bookbinders Provident Asylum

100a Balls Pond Road, Kingsland, N1 4AG


The Bookbinders Provident Asylum Society was established in May 1839 to raise funds in order to build almshouses for aged and infirm members of the trade, including their widows.

A freehold piece of land, measuring just over an acre, was purchased for £550. It was located just to the west of the Metropolitan Benefit Societies Asylum in the Balls Pond Road, at the corner of King Henry's Walk. Building work finally commence in May 1843.

A few months later the first block - the northern wing - of the Bookbinders Provident Asylum was completed at a cost of £1,669. On 4th July an inscription stone had been set into the almost finished building, simply engraved "Bookbinders Provident Asylum, established A.D. 1839, erected 1843". The ceremony had been celebrated by a dinner with 250 members and friends in attendance.

Nominations were received for the election of inmates, but it was then discovered that none of the applicants of the Asylum Society were eligible under the rules. Candidates for a place in the Asylum had to have worked in the business for at least 10 years, and to have subscribed £1 to the funds. Thus, at a meeting that October, it was decided to revert to the original scheme - that all pensioners were to be considered eligible to become candidates for the Asylum.

On 15th March 1844 the first three inmates were elected, moving into their apartments on 27th May 1844. In October another five were elected, making a total of eight inmates in six months, three of whom were women.

The almshouses came under the management of the same committee and officers as the Bookbinders Pension Society.

Fund-raising continued, with even the Prince Consort contributing £25. By 1852 enough money had been raised to build the east wing, at a cost of £1,178.

In 1874 the west wing was built, at a cost of £1,227. The Asylum then consisted of three blocks around three sides of a central courtyard.

In 1881 Mrs Ferguson, the widow of a retired tallow-chandler, bequeathed £1,100 to the institution "because it was so poor". The legacy enabled two additional cottages to be built in 1882 as a frontage to each wing, at a cost of nearly £1,400 for the four houses. The Asylum was finally regarded as being complete.

At the turn of the century an entirely new drainage system had to be laid, involving an outlay of £700. The finances of the Society, with 48 pensioners to support and the buildings to maintain, began to suffer. By 1907, instead of filling vacant almshouses with its pensioners, the Society let the rooms to private tenants, thus providing itself with a source of income.

As with many other charities in London, the Society purchased land on the outskirts of the capital. In 1926 it had bought land in Whetstone on which to build new almshouses. The Asylum closed in 1927 when the Bookbinders Cottages were completed the same year.


Current status

The Asylum was sold and later demolished. Its site became Deffries Furniture Transport, which was later nationalised as British Road Services.

Since 1964 the site has been occupied by Our Lady & St Joseph's Catholic Church.

N.B. Photographs obtained in August 2017

 Bookbinders Provident Institution

Our Lady & St Joseph's Catholic Church was built in 1964.

Bookbinders Provident Institution

The church has a large hall building with a car park on its western side.

References (Accessed 3rd October 2020)

Stubbings S 1906 The Bookbinders Pension and Asylum Society, part I. The Bookbinding Trades Journal I (11), 162-163.

Stubbings S 1906 The Bookbinders Pension and Asylum Society, part II. Bookbinding Trades Journal I (12), 178-179.

Stubbings S 1907 The Bookbinders Pension and Asylum Society, part III. Bookbinding Trades Journal I (13), 196-197.

Last updated 3rd October 2020

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