“The society which has abolished every kind of adventure makes its own abolition the only possible adventure.” Paris, May 1968


Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Knocking sheds together in the Old Kent Road.


Among the hundreds of books in our drum there are very few old, let alone rare or collectible volumes. A 1912 Freedom Press publication of Modern Science And Anarchism dedicated to, "Our devoted friend and comrade, Peter Kropotkin", on the occasion of the great man's seventieth birthday. Modern Boxing by Bombardier Billy Wells. My treasured Book Of Hobbies and a few other interesting but not at all valuable volumes from the 20's and 30's just about takes care of the vintage section of my collection. One unusual item that I do have is an Edwardian hardware catalogue published by William Cooper, or to give it's full title, The Gardeners and Poultry Keepers Guide and Illustrated Catalogue of Goods Manufactured and Supplied by W Cooper Ltd. The company had a huge site in the Old Kent Road covering several acres and could supply a vast range of items from garden tools to billiard tables, poultry appliances to heating systems, lawn mowers to ferret accommodation. Coopers also offered a selection  of wooden buildings including coals sheds, cricket pavilions, workshops, loose boxes and photographic studios. But to my mind by far the most interesting is the range of prefabricated corrugated iron buildings that include churches, chapels,workshops, hospitals,schools, swimming baths, boat houses, cottages and what are described as "colonial residences". If you were thinking of setting up a utopian community or an outpost of empire, Coopers was the place to get your buildings. Just to give you a flavour of the prices, the two story "African Merchants Station" retailed for £420.  Best not think about how much W. Cooper were paying the workers who made this stuff but clearly that part of South London was home to a veritable shed load of skilled craftsmen. All of the items in the catalogue are illustrated with detailed engravings or line drawings and there are also many pages of information on gardening and poultry keeping. A generous 638 pages hardback for a mere 2/6.

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