New base in Bloomsbury from 2019 will ‘usher in a new era for the Society of Authors’

The SoA has exchanged contracts on current and new properties, with plans to move in March 2019.

Photograph © 2018 Tim Gallagher

After five years of discussion, consultation and searching, we have taken the next major step in SoA history – selling our current home in Drayton Gardens, South Kensington, and purchasing a six-storey central London address in Bedford Row, Bloomsbury.

Over the past few years, as our membership has grown to more than 10,000, the size of our staff team has had to grow with it, and our current address has become increasingly unfit for purpose. Drayton Gardens is outdated, inaccessible for many members, and desperately in need of modernisation.

The move and redevelopment, which will be entirely funded from the sale of our properties in Drayton Gardens, will offer a far more accessible social environment for members, and working environment for staff and visitors. The new property will offer many advantages, including:

  • Better transport links, with a mainline station and tube station a few minutes away.
  • Full disabled access.
  • Better events and meeting space.
  • A drop-in space for members to work or meet.
  • Better facilities for remote sharing of meetings and events
  • Better working conditions for staff.

We have many months of design and refurbishment ahead of us and we aim to be able to complete the move by the end of March 2019.

Commenting on the move, Chair of the SoA Management Committee David Donachie said:

The Society of Authors is a vibrant, growing organisation – and to keep growing and fully supporting our members we need the right home. Moving to 24 Bedford Row will be transformational for us in so many ways – giving us a chance to completely adapt the space to suit our members’ needs, as well as for the staff team. This major step in 2019 will usher in a new era for the Society of Authors.

History of the SoA in addresses

The SoA has made a home at several addresses since 1884, however 24 Bedford Row will be only the second property the organisation has owned.

Before formal incorporation the Council met at 19 Garrick Street and the Committee of Management at 6 Queen Anne’s Gate Westminster. Our first official address was 24 Salisbury Street in the Strand. Over the next 50 years we leased the following office premises:

  • 1887-1901: 4 Portugal Street, Lincoln’s Inn Fields
  • 1901-1913: Storey’s Gate Westminster
  • 1913-1925: Tothill Street, Westminster
  • 1925-1939: 11 Gower Street Bloomsbury

The SoA moved to 84 Drayton Gardens 79 years ago in 1939. The move to 24 Bedford Row will take us back to just a few minutes’ walk from our first office in Portugal Street.

COMMENTS

Peter Ward (09/04/2018 02:38)
" I very much welcome the move. Drayton Gardens always seemed very cramped and as you noted, badly in need of a top-to-bottom modernisation. Please could you ensure the members' working space is large enough to accommodate more than just half a dozen people - it's going to be popular and will fill up quickly.! Ideally a whole floor should be allocated. Are there plans for the building that members can look at.?
Good luck with the move. When will it be opening.?
Best wishes ~
Peter Ward"
Annette Kuhn (06/04/2018 08:05)
" This is wonderful news. Congratulations all round. It'll be marvellous to be able to visit and attend events at a venue that's more easily accessible for many members."
Sarah Thorley (04/04/2018 12:13)
" Looks and sounds like a wonderful move in every way.
Very good news. Best wishes to all the staff over this next transition year."
Jill Dawson (03/04/2018 02:01)
" Congratulations - a fabulous move. Been a member since 1992 but hardly ever got to your old premises. This is much more accessible for those of your members who don't live in London - I travel to the British library from Cambs to Kings Cross but will now be excited to see the possibilities of your meeting spaces. Well done all."
Jill Dawson (03/04/2018 02:00)
" Congratulations - a fabulous move. Been a member since 1992 but hardly ever got to your old premises. This is much more accessible for those of your members who don't live in London - I travel to the British library from Cambs and use their premises but will now be excited to see the possibilities of yours. Well done all."
Frankie Calvert (31/03/2018 01:43)
" To expand on what I said before ... The London Library is a lovely, haunting place and I would love to be a member and do understand why they have to charge to keep it going, but unfortunately, I - and I'm sure many others - can't afford it, so if our own Society had a library-like place in the new premises the use of which being included in the annual membership fee, then that would be really good ..."
Frankie Calvert (30/03/2018 03:57)
" Will the new drop-in centre be in the form of a library we can work in, maybe? Like the London Library except without having to pay £500 a year ..."
Richard Williams (30/03/2018 03:03)
" Congratulations on an excellent deal which gives the Society larger premises in a more central part of London at no cost. Bloomsbury is an excellent choice as it's historically associated with both with publishing and the Society's previous homes."
Susan Quilliam (29/03/2018 08:30)
" Let me echo everyone else's congratulations. Better for staff, and yes better for authors who can drop in - much more of a sense of community. And - being selfish - no longer at the absoluteopposite end of London from the station at which I arrive!"
Claire Tomalin (29/03/2018 05:48)
" Very good news - much as I loved Drayton Gardens, this does seem a better situation for the Society. I look forward very much to dropping in."
Mary Hoffman (29/03/2018 11:39)
" Nicola and her staff and the members of the property committee have worked tirelessly for this and all praise to them."
Christina Hardyment (29/03/2018 11:20)
" Wonderful news for out-of-London members. When does it open its doors?"
Nicola Coldstream (29/03/2018 09:48)
" Satisfyingly near the Persephone Bookshop.

Could book groups meet in the new premises?"
Colin McNaughton (28/03/2018 08:54)
" Really? How much did it cost? How much will it cost?
It's a romantic solution to the needs of the SOA, wonderful location, lived there 25 years of my life, but! Is it the best use of SOA funds? Playing devil's advocate. x"
Jane Steen (28/03/2018 05:30)
" I love the idea of a drop-in area for members, especially as I don't live in London but do travel there from time to time. I hope that if you allow writers' groups to hold meetings there you'll have online scheduling as well, and perhaps a way for members to see which groups are meeting at SoA and whether it's possible to join them. And I'm excited about the improved event space and the possibility of remote sharing, which I'm sure will lead to more events for us to attend."
Samantha Collett (28/03/2018 04:18)
" So excited to hear this news! Well done everybody - not an easy task at all, but you have shored up and secured the future home of the SoA for many grafetul generations to come! Big Thanks!"
Melanie Reinhart (28/03/2018 02:11)
" Wonderful news! Grateful thanks to all who have faithfully shepherded this b-i-g project into manifestation. Looks like a fabulous building in a fabulous location. "Back Home in Bloomsbury"! How delightful. Certainly easier transport-wise for members coming in from the North via Kings Cross. Wondering if there might be rooms to rent for discussion groups, etc?"
Linda Samuels (28/03/2018 01:00)
" Wonderful news!
Looking forward to attending events in the new building !"
Dawn Finch (28/03/2018 12:56)
" This is so exciting! Drayton Gardens was roasting hot in summer, and freezing cold in winter, and a long walk from the station. This new building is in a much more desirable (and accessible) location and looks as if it will have a lot more space for everyone. Really looking forward to committee meetings and events in the new building, and I'm sure the staff will all enjoy a better space too!"
Peter Mieville (28/03/2018 12:52)
" Great news! Congrats all round. Good luck with the next phase."
John Haffenden (28/03/2018 12:33)
" This seems to me a smart move from almost every angle -- very well done to David Donachie and the Management Committee! A lovely building for everyone to be proud of too!"
Reginad Massey (28/03/2018 12:28)
" This is great news. Larger space in the heart of London and a drop in centre.
Just what the SoA needed."
Jacqueline Mujlhallen (28/03/2018 12:26)
" This is wonderful news. I loved Drayton Gardens, but over the last few years I have become increasingly disabled and Bloomsbury, being near Kings Cross station and there being disabled access will make it much easier for me to attend events. I love Bloomsbury too, so am very happy."
Niall Slater (28/03/2018 12:26)
" Hi Miranda - that's the plan! If all goes smoothly then we'll have an area where members can drop in and spend time even if they don't have a meeting on."
Miranda Miller (28/03/2018 12:18)
" What good news! About 18 months ago I started a group Called Novelists in London. We meet once a month in a friendly but noisy pub near the British Museum. It would be great if we could hold our meetings in the new building. Is this what you mean by a drop in centre?"
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