Category Archives: Westminster Reference Library

Unpicking Beale & Inman – new exhibition

Unpicking Beale & Inman is a collaborative exhibition at Westminster Reference Library featuring the works of MA Fashion Curation and MA Fashion Cultures: History & Culture students from London College of Fashion, in collaboration with the Westminster City Archives. The exhibition explores the grassroots of an ongoing research project into the renowned British tailoring company Beale & Inman.

 Tracing the history of Beale & Inman through the individual research perspectives of each student, the work displayed is that of a work in progress. From the history of the suit and imagined caricatures, to regimental fabrics and employee interviews. The research presented explores the rich history of the New Bond Street store in all its complexities. Portraying the varying aspects of the business in differing ways, the exhibition simultaneously answers and raises questions about the historic store.

 Housed within the Beale & Inman collection are a range of business ledgers from new customer books and financial ledgers to pattern samples and order books. These items form the basis of the scope of the research displayed within this exhibition. Each display has grown from an analysis of an archive item, allowing for an interesting and intersecting discussion into Beale & Inman.

 From 1828 to 2007 the store stood at 132-133 New Bond Street and welcomed many well-known and respected customers from Charles Dickens to Sir Winston Churchill. Despite the many changes throughout the latter years of the company’s history, Beale & Inman remained a staple figure in British menswear history. The exhibition picks apart the threads that held the business together and explores each individual section in detail. Analysing and reimagining its history for a contemporary audience.

 Unpicking Beale & Inman on until Monday 23rd March 2020 on the first floor of  Westminster Reference Library, 35 St Martin’s St (just off Leicester Square). Free entry.

Nick, Westminster Reference Library

Westminster Reference Library – Celebrating 90 Years! 8th Oct 1928 – 8th Oct 2018

A big Happy Birthday to Westminster Reference Library! 90 years old! Opened to the public on 8th Oct 1928, the Central Reference Library as it was then known has continued to serve the public throughout its 90 years, morphing its way through the myriad information formats, books, magazines, microfiche, floppy disks, CDROMs etc and on into the age of the internet and world wide web…  WRF90thPartyThe library’s journey throughout the 20th Century and into the 21st reflects the evolution of the library as institution, in particular the curious beast that is the reference library, a rare breed now, almost extinct!  Indeed the use of the word ‘reference’ in the library’s name is something of a misnomer as what were once purely reference and information services now includes lending, with the library focused on its special collections in BusinessLawArt & Design, and Performing Arts.

Current visitors enjoy access to characterful reading rooms with study spaces over three floors, an Exhibition space, free access to internet & pcs, free wifi, as well as access to books, magazines and newspapers, all complemented by the wealth of online resources also available via 24/7 Library.  The library hosts regular events  with a special programme of talks and workshops throughout October.

WRFStairs

Even libraries benefit from having a USP these days and earlier this year the library was refurbished and its unique heritage brought to fore.  Situated on what was the site of astronomer Isaac Newton’s house, the library’s architecture reflects the style of the original building.  Plaques marking the site’s historical significance always adorned the foyer and the exterior, but now a portrait of Sir Isaac Newton and images of the telescope he invented along with his study decorate the foyer and stairwell.  This decorative renovation was inspired by and designed to coincide with the Reach for Skies project, launched in May 2018,  with the library now lending telescopes!

Tucked away off Leicester Square and behind the National Gallery, often people report only finding out about the library when passing by. Lending telescopes is already working to put the library on the map and reach new audiences.  If you haven’t visited Westminster Reference Library recently or before, do come see us.

Our Celebration party is on Monday 8TH October, 11am – 3pm and everyone is invited!

There will be cake and crepes and an opportunity get to know the library better by taking part in a Cryptic Quiz which runs to the end of October. Full of clues about the library, its history and collections, you will be in with a chance to win theatre, concert, opera tickets, book tokens, and free access for 1 year for a lucky entrepreneur to exclusive KOMPASS Global B2B database.

No need to book, just turn up. Whether you’re a regular customer or first time visitor, we look forward to seeing you!

Astronomy Month: Stars in Your Eyes

September is Astronomy Month at Westminster Reference Library with free events each week and telescopes for loan; more information about everything that’s happening on our website

Bayeux Tapestry 32-33 comet Halley Harold

Isti Mirant Stella, Bayeaux Tapestry, Canterbury, 1070s

They wonder at the star

This is the earliest picture of Halley’s Comet, made at a time when comets were bad omens. In 1066, it was visible from  24 April to 1 May, a few months after Harold’s coronation on 6 January, and before his death and defeat at the Battle of Hastings on 14 October.

Edmond Halley (1656 – 1742) astronomer and mathematician, was the first to compute the orbit of this comet and accurately predict its return in 1758. Halley was a frequent visitor when Sir Isaac Newton lived in the house which was on the site of the library from 1710 – 1727.

Did you know the library has a specialist Fine Arts Collection on the first floor? You are welcome to explore our books on this early medieval masterpiece, from a contemporary account to recent research:

Bayeux Tapestry and the Norman Invasion, Introduction and Translation from the contemporary account of William of Poitiers by Lewis Thorpe, London 1973

David Mackenzie Wilson, The Bayeux tapestry: the complete tapestry in colour, with introduction, description and commentary, London, 1985

Wolfgang Grape, The Bayeux Tapestry: monument to a Norman triumph, Translated from the German, Munich 1994

Lucien Musset, The Bayeux Tapestry: translated by Richard Rex, Woodbridge, 2005

Carola Hicks, The Bayeux Tapestry: The Life Story of a Masterpiece London, 2007

Library staff are happy to help you to find these and other books in the collection.

Not sure where we are? Westminster Reference Library  is off the south side of Leicester Square, behind the main wing of the National Gallery.  For more information, telephone 020 7641 1300.

Salon for the City

As the Salon for the City starts its 6th year at the Westminster Reference Library it feels like a good time to have a bit of a retrospective.

In case you hadn’t already heard, Salon for the City is a series taking a look at London through a different lens on the last Wednesday of each month at the Westminster Reference Library.

The Salon is very popular and regularly attracts 40+ people who brave all sorts of terrible weather conditions to attend (last month’s talk on London transport was beset by a snow storm that ironically shut down vast swathes of London and despite those conditions the Salon was still heaving)

The Salons always sell out and Hendricks lubricate the library each month with a specially prepared cocktail of that most London of liquors: Gin.

The salons usually take the form of two illustrated talks by invited speakers in the fields of history, the arts, business, fashion and culture. The talks are followed by a joint Q+A and conversation. We also have occasional performances, themed interviews and films.

There is time to mingle, converse, browse the amazing collection of the Library in the company of other London lovers.

We started off with this : London at the library

and grew to this :

Salon1

As the 50th Salon took over the entire ground floor with 10 London experts talking about their favourite Londoner.

Salon2

But normally it coexists quite well with normal library business going on around it:

Salon3

If you would like to come along you can book a ticket here.

Nicholas Alexander
Collection Services Officer

Art book of the month, March 2018

After a little break, due to the refurb at Westminster Reference Library, ‘Art book of the month’ is back. Over to Nick…

As befits our recent reopening of our ground floor this month (the first floor is due to open up in April so art books won’t be available until then), why not have a thought about what art actually is with ‘A New Dictionary of Art’ edited by Robert Good.

This is an interesting take on the question of ‘What is art?’ which presents over 3000 definitions of art compiled from both established sources and the internet.

These range from the straightforward –

To the bizarre

To the formal

There’s a vulgar definition too, but it’s a bit cheeky for our blog. One of the joys about this books is how the work itself is very much a work of art!

Nick
Nicholas Alexander
Collection Services Officer

PS previous art book of the month posts: November 2017, October 2017 and September 2017