January always brings with it a sense of regeneration, and this year at 4th Estate that sense was heightened as the date of our office move drew near. We spent December in a state of flux, archiving hundreds of books and packing up our things, in doing so unearthing a wunderkammer’s worth of bizarre items including a giraffe jawbone, a piñata, an artillery shell, and a cut-out of Dolly Parton. We were admittedly nervous about moving from our cosy Hammersmith home, and reticent about moving to the open-plan, glass-walled heights of London Bridge. After all, T.S. Eliot compared the commuters of London Bridge to the lost souls of Dante’s limbo in The Wasteland:
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many.
Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.
On Monday morning we did indeed make ‘Sighs, short and infrequent’, but not due to a sense of being in limbo; we were looking out at this majestic sight, taking in Southwark Cathedral and St. Paul’s across the Thames:
After oohing and aahing at the skyline for a large part of the morning, we investigated our new meeting rooms, and were delighted to find a gloriously illustrated Hilary Mantel quotation inscribed upon the wall:
We tried out the incredible new audio studios, where we’ll be recording the 4th Estate Podcast:
We began to move our books into our bookshelves, creating some eye-popping displays:
And finally, we made sure that even though we have a fancy new headquarters, our heritage is still intact, in the form of the giraffe jawbones and other curiosities that have quickly populated our gleaming white desks and bookcases:
We’ve only been in the new office a week, and it already feels like home. Yes, there’s been a lot more staring out of the window, and yes, the endless free coffee has given us all the shakes, but we’ve successfully retained the distinctive atmosphere of the old 4th Estate while confidently looking to the future. Here’s to a long and fruitful residency at 1 London Bridge Street!
Words by Tom Killingbeck
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