Page 7 - October 2014
P. 7

change of name, becoming NATSOPA. The             turned out to be an eastern European insult,                   ®½½çÝãكã®ÊÄÝ, —ƒã›— Ϗϗώϖ, ¥ÙÊà 㫛 ¥®ÙÝ㠛—®ã®ÊÄ Ê¥ 㫛 ÖÙ®Äã›Ù͝Ý ƒÝÝ®ÝãƒÄã ΄Ö琽®Ý«›— ù ăãÝÊփ΅ ƒÄ— ®Ý çݛ— ù ֛ÙîÝÝ®ÊÄ Ê¥ Ý㠐ٮ—› ½®ÙƒÙù Ι ƒÙ‘«®ò›Ý
union grew rapidly, from just under 5,000         and so I walked on by.
members in 1911 to over 25,000 in 29
branches by 1929. It eventually became one        I shall miss that crumbling old pile because
of the most powerful and influenƟal unions         it had become such a familiar sight. I’m at an
in the prinƟng trade, confronƟng major            age when my dislike of change is growing,
employers over working poor condiƟons             but London has always evolved and BaƩersea
and wages from the beginning of its               is no excepƟon. Although the spectacular
existence.                                        skyscraper development which is set to
                                                  replace number 26 is likely to be an eye-
Mergers and amalgamaƟons over the                 catching structure I doubt it will have the
decades saw the union morph into SOGAT            quirky charm of its predecessor. Goodbye
(Society of Graphical and Allied Trades)          number 26—your Ɵme is up.
but the run-down building near BaƩersea
Bridge retained the name of the old union                                                                     7
in deeply incised gold leƩering, cut into
the very fabric of the structure. It was
called Caxton House, for obvious reasons,
but whether the union actually occupied
the premises during the enƟre span of
its existence is unsure. An aƩempt was
made to spruce up the signage around
twenty years ago, when brassy-gold paint
was daubed over the sculpted leƩering.
The gilded finish was liberally-applied,
extending beyond the boundaries of the
chiseled characters, presumably with the
intenƟon of Ɵdying the whole thing up with
a finishing coat of black paint to carefully
surround the words. The black paint was
never applied, so the gold leƩering looked
smudged and amateurishly painted for
twenty years or more.

Last week I went along to take a snapshot
of the building, hoping to include it in a
new batch of “London’s LeƩerpress Legacy”
features, but it has gone, and quite recently
by the look of it. Wooden hoardings now
surround the site and a workman was fixing
these in posiƟon when I walked by. I was
curious about what has happened to the
NATSOPA signage, but when I tried to strike
up a conversaƟon with the demoliƟon worker
it quickly became apparent that his command
of English wasn’t quite up to it. I was hesitant
about using the word NATSOPA in case it
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