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End of an era

Publishing buildingI spent 13 years working with Macmillan Publishers on an industrial estate in Basingstoke. It was something of a standing joke within the company - a brutalist office block with a portakabin training room, opposite a Sainsburys depot, just up the road from the Fyffes banana factory. And people think publishing is glamorous.

Why Basingstoke? Harold Macmillan was a great believer in the New Towns of the 1950s, and put his money where his mouth was by moving the family publishing firm - or at least a chunk of it: there were also divisions in London and Oxford - out to brand new Basingstoke. No other press followed. 

When I came down there for interview in 1999, fresh from the wisteria-clad walls and copper-beech courtyard of Oxford University Press, I very nearly turned around at one of Basingstoke's many roundabouts to head back to Oxford. 

But what drew me there and what kept me there were the people: an inspiring leadership team and cheerful, capable, creative colleagues. I was involved in so many brilliant books and exciting digital projects over my time there, and I am grateful for all of it. 

My time at Macmillan ended when the company moved to London in 2014 and I took the opportunity to do what I'd always talked about - start a business of my own. It took months for everyone to move out, but finally the tired old office block was empty, and I heard recently that the demolition had begun. I happened to be in town this evening with a few minutes to spare so I swung by to see for myself, and got this elegiac shot of the Macmillan Publishing Building being gradually dismembered against the setting sun. 

So sad, and yet also so hopeful: there'll be new buildings, new businesses there soon, and I wouldn't have the life I have now had one era not ended and another begun. Bittersweet.

This entry was posted on 24 January 2017 at 21:08 and is filed under Other | publishing. You can leave a response here.

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1 response to 'End of an era'

Debs says

Lovely post and so eloquently written. Hard sometimes to realise the positive coming out of a situation that you originally didn't have total control over.

Added on 25 January 2017 at 13:58

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