St James Park Press

Collections - Posted 06-12-2021

Over the years the Library has built a comprehensive collection of the publications of private presses, which produce beautiful books in limited editions, using traditional hand-printing methods.  Sadly several private presses in Wales have ceased functioning in recent years: the Gregynog Press near Newtown, the Red Hen Press in Breconshire and the Old Stile Press in Monmouthshire, leaving only the Gwydir Press in Llanrwst as far as I know.  Several in England have come to an end as well.

So it was heartening to discover a new private press recently.  The St. James Park Press was established in London by James Freemantle in 2015, and I had the pleasure of visiting it this year.  The Library has bought a copy of a book published by the press in 2020, an edition of Arthurian stories.  The book was published in a limited edition of 65 copies on an Albion press, using hand-made paper.  It includes striking wood engravings to accompany the text.



We have also purchased a copy of a book published by the press in 2018, On the Birmingham School of Art, 1940 by Eric Gill.  Eric Gill was a printer and sculptor who established a workshop in Capel-y-ffin, Powys, in 1924.  He designed several typefaces, and was a significant influence on a number of private presses.  This edition of Gill’s report on the Birmingham School of Art is limited to 100 copies, in a bamboo binding with an illustration by Eric Gill engraved on the cover.

The press is about to publish its most ambitious book yet, an edition of George Orwell’s 1984.  The Library has received a prospectus of the book for its collections.  It is to be hoped that the St. James Park Press will continue to flourish.  It would be good to see private presses established in Wales once again to continue this tradition.

Timothy Cutts

Rare Books Librarian

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A blog about the work and collections of the National Library of Wales.

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