After many years working as a veterinary surgeon, due to chronic back pain, my life had to take a different turn, and through a series of happy accidents I found myself training as a bookbinder. A few years later my lifetime’s passion for sailing and traditional boats led me to the writing and publishing of two books on the maritime history of the East Anglian coast. The first of these books, Two Points East – a View of Maritime Norfolk, was published in 2017. It was too good an opportunity for a bookbinder to miss the chance of having some copies supplied unbound, ‘in sheets’, for other bookbinders to enjoy the challenge of designing and making a binding.

But a series of mistakes by the printer led to 450 unbound copies arriving, rather then the 50 that I had asked for, and what was a golden opportunity suddenly became a problem. Solutions were eventually found by the Designer Bookbinders, who have used 100 of them as an educational resource for tutors and students, and the Society of Bookbinders who ran a challenge for members to design and execute a binding the following year. I sent out over 150 copies to members of the Society of Bookbinders, some going as far as the United States and Australia, and this resulted in an exhibition of twenty-eight different design bindings which were on display at the Bookbinders Seminar at Chester in 2018.

This is one of the bindings, by Lyn Gibson. The herrings have been made from coloured leather pared to 0.3mm and then sanded to reveal the paler shades of colour. They have then been pasted onto the surface of the book leather.

I am bringing twenty of these bindings to Norfolk this year to form a travelling exhibition around the county and it will be opening in Great Yarmouth, in April and then to Trues Yard Fisherfolk Museum in King’s Lynn, Turn the Page Book Fair, The Rocket House Cafe in Cromer, Anteros Arts Foundation, Jarrolds Book Department and the Cathedral Library in Norwich, finishing  at Wells Maltings for the whole month of September.

The remainder of the unbound copies have been donated to schools and other educational institutions.

About the book

Two Points East is an unusual book about the maritime history of the Norfolk coast from Anglo- Saxon times up until when the railways arrived superseding the use of the sailing ships which for centuries had been a major feature of the ports all around the North Sea coast.

The book had its origins in a sketching tour of the coast which got rather out of hand as my interest in the history of this coast grew, and so is full of illustrations as well as plenty of information and stories of Norfolk’s maritime past. It gives a taster of fascinating facts about all things to do with the sea and the boats that fished the waters, carried merchandise and were sometimes even commandeered by the king for as temporary warships before the Royal Navy was started by Henry VIII. But thats another story, related in the next book, Curlew Coast – Diversions on Maritime Suffolk…..

The book is much a piece of design as it is written text with red herrings appearing throughout the text to flag up interesting pieces of information and generally look cheerful.