All change in Angel Alley

I’ve recently been having a lot of fun with old bits of paper at Freedom Press indulging my mild archiving OCD, as preparations are made to move the building's retail arm downstairs by our tame shop-guru amid a serious change-around.

As the hordes of people who have been to Freedom know, we have for a long time had something of an eccentric setup. On the top floor, alongside a somewhat mysterious office there is the home of the Advisory Service for Squatters. Once floor down from that is the ‘Autonomy Club’ (basically a biggish living room/kitchen space with a big table, some chairs and a load of international magazines in racks), and another office, supposedly dedicated to the production of Freedom (we’re rarely there cos we do most of the thing via email these days) and distro of our books. On the first floor is the shop in a pokey and badly-lit room, opposite the loo and the hacklab. On the ground floor meanwhile, which is set up with big front windows, lots of room and a decent front door, we store huge amounts of books, with the security shutters permanently down.

In the new layout, the top two floors would remain the same (maybe they’ll get a bit cleaner), but the hacklab is going. In it’s place, we’re hoping to welcome the London Coalition Against Poverty to use the room for their new office space. The room opposite will hold a load of stock, while the big downstairs room will be done up all pretty as a bookshop. The extra space should mean we can have more stuff out, space it properly, and maybe shovel some extra useful bits and pieces in as well.

One of these extra useful bits and pieces is the reason for my shovelling paper around – or rather, papers. Over a century’s worth in fact. The tendency of many anarchists to keep vast amounts of largely useless and elderly literature lying around “Just In Case” (you know you do it too) has been upheld spectacularly over the years at Freedom Press as we have multiple copies of pretty much every issue ever printed of our august newspaper, along with a big batch of foreign publications.

I spotted them the other week after they had been moved upstairs to the Autonomy Club from the ground floor. Well-wrapped, they’re mostly in fairly reasonable condition and there’s a lot of them. They’d been dumped fairly haphazardly and I decided to re-order them. Somewhere around 1955, I had a bit of a thought – why not make this accessible to a wider audience? And so is born another ambitious project*, involving sorting through to get one copy of each issue from the turn of the 20th century up until today, putting them in some kind of protective folder, and then archiving them neatly in an open-access spot for the anarchist historians of the future to sort through.

Even doing this however, and keeping maybe another three complete issue sets per year for spares we’re going to have a lot of stuff left over. At some point in the medium term future then, we’ll probably be wanting to offload some of it on groups or institutions looking to expand their own archives. Watch that space!

*Volunteers welcome

Posted By

Rob Ray
Jul 17 2008 11:28


Attached files


Jul 17 2008 22:48

volunteer. details welcome when you've got them. what are you doing with multiple copies of things?

Jul 19 2008 15:23


Jason Cortez
Jul 20 2008 08:56

At f*cking last!! Some of us have only been saying this for years now! I even volunteered to do most of the work of doing up the the new bookshop. If you ask very nicely i might be willing to help out. And LCAP will be using the space that was once hacklab.

Mike Harman
Jul 20 2008 10:06

I had no idea Freedom had the ground floor with shop front until this post!

Jul 20 2008 14:16

All the crap in the hacklab really needs a good home, so if anyone knows anyone wink

Rob Ray
Jul 20 2008 16:06

Cheers si, will let you know when I'm next in London, which is probably when it'll next get worked on. Multiple copies are already kind of getting promised out, there's a Swiss group, Bishopsgate library and a couple of others around. With the books, we're hoping to keep a lot of them but of the ones which are going it'll probably be first come first served.

Yeah we're going to be getting a couple of cheap computers on the grounds of reliability/speed for the office, dunno if there's any computer building hobbyists about but there's plenty of equipment going begging and it'd be nice to maybe get one or two of them either upgraded or redone to go downstairs or something for visitors...

Rob Ray
Jul 20 2008 18:42

Ooh and Jason, it would be really good if you could help out with the moving stuff, tame shop-guru is organising that, I'll pass on his email to you by pm.

Jul 21 2008 07:33

you definitely not selling up then?

Rob Ray
Jul 21 2008 07:54

That'd be my preferred option but as I'm not able to do it and there doesn't seem to be much enthusiasm from the rest of the collective it looks like we're staying put for now.

Jul 24 2008 21:25

I was in Freedom this week with Iain Mckay flicking through back issues of Freedom and War Commentary. I really think this is an important resource that needs to be kept in good condition and made accessible - its our history and pretty interesting too. We in AF have been discussing setting up an archive for material from the Fed and other stuff member's have (yep plenty of hoarders!!) I do think it would be worth thinking about what to do with back issues and maybe chatting with AF.

Jul 30 2008 07:53

They should all be scanned and put online here!

Rob Ray
Jul 30 2008 08:28

That can be your job wink

Aug 10 2008 07:50

I think I'll be popping by in the foreseeable future. Btw, I emailed Freedom for a copy of your catalogue. No reply so far...