London … there’s no time to sit down when trying to find all fifty-one ‘Books About Town’ bookbenches across the city

London seems to have a lack of decent public benches. Any benches that do exist in the city tend to be either too wet to sit on (due to all the rain), covered in pigeon droppings (due to all the pigeons) or placed facing a busy road rather than towards a beautiful city landmark (due to ridiculously bad town planning). But then us Londoners are always on the move and have a reputation for appearing to be in a rush all the time, rarely finding a moment to sit down, and certainly not out in public. So I guess the Powers-That-Be feel there is no need to waste money installing any extra benches around town hence the apparent lack.

However, this Summer (2014) the National Literacy Trust and Wild in Art have come to the rescue with the superb Books About Town project: over fifty stunning and specially designed ‘bookbenches’ have been created by local artists inspired by London’s rich literary heritage. These unique benches have been dotted about the city to make up four ‘trails’ around Greenwich, Bloomsbury, the City and the Riverside and will remain in place until mid September. They will then be auctioned off in October to raise money for disadvantaged children to help improve their literacy skills.

I couldn’t resist an excuse to run around London finding them all, and here they all are. The Putney Exchange Mini bookbenches are at the end of the post. Enjoy. TLT x

P.S. there are a lot of photos on this page so it may take a little time for all the images to appear with some browsers. Hopefully the wait and effort will be worth it.


 

That’s Not My … series by Fiona Watt & Rachel Wells (original illustrations)

That’s Not My Meerkat Bookbench by Jenny Hilborne & Sarah Jane Richards

Millennium Bridge, City Trail

That's not my cathedral

That’s not my cathedral


 

Samuel Pepy’s Diary

Bookbench created by Michele Petit-Jean

Cutty Sark, Greenwich Trail

Probably best not to have a naked flame so close to the Cutty Sark ... again

Probably best not to have a naked flame so close to the Cutty Sark … again


 

 The World’s Biggest Flipbook by Jeremy Banx

Bookbench created by Jeremy Banx

Waterloo station, Riverside Trail

Patience is a virtue: hugs all round after the very long wait for Jeremy Banx's bench to become free from sitter-downers

Patience is a virtue: hugs all round after the very long wait for Jeremy Banx’s bench to become free from sitter-downers


 

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

Always try to be a little kinder than is necessary Bookbench created by Sian Storey

Red Lion Square Gardens, Bloomsbury Trail

Master Pan is up rather late. It's nearly 2am!

Master Pan is up rather late. It’s nearly 2am!


 

A Bear Called Paddington by Michael Bond

Please look after this bear. Thank you Bookbench created by Michelle Heron

South Bank, London Bridge, Riverside Trail

Miles away from Paddington station. Well, he always did have a bad sense of direction.

Miles away from Paddington station. Well, he always did have a bad sense of direction.

Back


 

Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

The curious case of Sherlock Holmes Bookbench created by Valerie Osment

Worburn Square Garden, Bloomsbury Trail

The curious case of this bench not being located on Baker Street (back view)

The curious case of this bench not being located on Baker Street (back view)


 

Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack

Bookbench created by Trevor Skempton

Guildhall, City Trail

Is it wise to be throwing cricket balls so close to the windows?

Is it wise to be throwing cricket balls so close to the windows?

...


 

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend

Girl Engrossed bookbench created by Andrea Joseph

St Alfege Churchyard, Greenwich Trail

The artist as a child reading Adrian Mole

The artist as a child reading Adrian Mole


 

Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

Bookbench by One Red Shoe (Fiona & Neil Osborne)

Gordon Square Garden, Bloomsbury Trail

A day in the life of Mrs Dalloway's bookbench

A day in the life of Mrs Dalloway’s bookbench


 

The Characters of Dr Seuss created by Theodor Seuss Geisel

The World of Dr Seuss Bookbench by Jane Headford

City Hall, Riverside trail

The girl with the plait, for a long time sat, with a book and a bap, so one had to wait some time for a snap ... of the front of this bookbench

The girl with the plait, for a long time sat, with a book and a bap, so one had to wait some time for a snap … of the front of this bookbench


 

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

Bookbench created by Ruth Green

Greenwich Park, Greenwich Trail

Ooo be do, I wanna be like this boo-oo-oo-ookbench (terrible)

Ooo be do, I wanna be like this boo-oo-oo-ookbench (terrible)


 

Brick Lane by Monica Ali

Bookbench by Charlotte Brown

Postman’s Park, City Trail

Strangely not located in Brick Lane itself, not even in the East End, but in a leafy middle class square in front of a Protestant church! (how odd)

Strangely not located in Brick Lane itself, not even in the East End, but in a leafy middle class square in front of a Protestant church! (how odd)

Books About Town 2014 Monica Ali Brick Lane Charlotte Brown front


 

The Gruffalo, Scarecrows and other characters by Axel Scheffler & Julia Donaldson

Bookbench by Axel Scheffler

South Bank, Hay’s Galleria, Riverside Trail

So it's not just Beefeaters keeping an eye on the ravens by the Tower of London these days

So it’s not just Beefeaters keeping an eye on the ravens by the Tower of London these days


 

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

Bookbench by Mandii Pope

St George’s Gardens, Bloomsbury Trail

Stunning. Ironically, l took these photos on one of the hottest days so far this year in London (it was 31C)

Stunning. Ironically, l took these photos on one of the hottest days so far this year in London (it was 31C)

...

...


 

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

Bookbench by Paraig O’Driscall

Between Cornhill and Threadneedle Street, City Trail

Two taking a brief moment in time next to A Brief History of Time bookbench

Two taking a brief moment in time next to A Brief History of Time bookbench


 

On the Origins of Species by Charles Darwin

Bookbench by Jane Ververis Callan

National Maritime Museum, Greenwich Trail

The bookbench of life

The bookbench of life


 

Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s London Bookbench by Lucy Dalzell

The Globe Theatre, Riverside Trail

A horse! A horse! My bookbench for a horse!

A horse! A horse! My bookbench for a horse!


 

Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers

The Extraordinary East Wind Bookbench by Darel Seow

Festival Gardens, St Paul’s, City Trail

No one here feeding the birds, but there was a bit of a breeze picking up

No one here feeding the birds, but there was a bit of a breeze picking up


 

Jeeves and Wooster stories by P. G. Wodehouse

Bookbench by Gordon Allum

The Brunswick Shopping Centre, Bloomsbury Trail

He probably fainted with shock on seeing the prices of items in the surrounding shops

He probably fainted with shock on seeing the prices of items in the surrounding shops


 

The Time Machine by H. G. Wells

Bookbench by Di Ralston

Royal Observatory, Greenwich Trail

London, 2014

London, 2014


 

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

Earnest Bookbench by Trevor Skempton

Torrington Place, Bloomsbury Trail

The most appropriate place to lay one's handbag

The most appropriate place to lay one’s handbag


 

Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby

Bookbench by Sophie Green

Festival Gardens, St Paul’s, City Trail

Such a shame this bookbench wasn't located in Highbury

Such a shame this bookbench wasn’t located in Highbury

...


 

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

Bookbench by Rae Smith (original illustrations) and Gerard Strong

More London Place, Riverside Trail

Simply beautiful

Simply beautiful


 

The Railway Children by E. Nesbit

One Red Shoe (Fiona and Neil Osborne)

Naval College Gardens, Greenwich Trail

One cannot miss the sight of the Railway Children bookbench

One cannot miss the sight of the Railway Children bookbench


 

Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman

Bookbench by Oliver Dean

Fen Court, City Trail

Books About Town 2014 Malorie Blackman Noughts and Crosses Oliver Dean front


 

Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

Bookbench by Ralph Steadman

City Hall, Riverside Trail

Front detail


 

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen & Helen Oxenbury

Bookbench by Gerard Strong

The Flower Gardens, Greenwich Park, Greenwich Trail

The grass around this bookbench was just as long and luscious

The grass around this bookbench was just as long and luscious


 

Hercule Poirot and the Greenshore Folly by Agatha Christie

Bookbench by Tom Adams and Mandii Pope

Bloomsbury Square Gardens, Bloomsbury Trail

That doesn't even look like Poirot. No mustache for starters, and far too beautiful

That doesn’t even look like Poirot. No moustache for starters, and far too beautiful

Books About Town 2014 Agatha Christie Hercule Poirot and the Greenshore Folly front

s that Eric the Skull from the legendary Detection Club, by Ms Christie's side?

Is that Eric the Skull from the legendary Detection Club, by Ms Christie’s side?


 

Journals: Captain Scott’s Last Expedition by Robert Falcon Scott

Frozen in History Bookbench by Charles Bezzina

National Maritime Museum, Greenwich Trail

The artwork on this bookbench is astoundingly moving

The artwork on this bookbench is astoundingly moving

Books About Town 2014 Robert Falcon Scott Journals Captain Scott's Last Expedition Charles Bezzina Frozen in History back


 

The Laura Marlin Mysteries by Lauren St John

Bookbench by David Dean (original artwork) & Jane Headford

St Mary Aldermanbury’s Garden (Love Lane), City Trail

A bookbench packed with excitement

A bookbench packed with excitement


 

Clarice Bean by Lauren Child

Reading and Thinking Bookbench by Jane Headford

City Hall, Riverside Trail

I do hope that's not what he's doing to her

I do hope that’s not what he’s doing to her

Books About Town 2014 Lauren Child Clarice Bean Jan Headford front


 

James Bond stories by Ian Fleming

Bookbench by Freyja Dean

Bloomsbury Square Gardens, Bloomsbury Trail

This bookbench is not shaky but sturdy (it's firmly attached to its base)

This bookbench is not shaky but sturdy (it’s firmly attached to its base)


 

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham

Bookbench by Mik Richardson

Bank of England, City Trail

Kenneth Graham worked at the Bank of England for almost thirty years. Poop-poop!

Kenneth Graham worked at the Bank of England for almost thirty years. Poop-poop!


 

Katie in London by James Mayhew

Bookbench by James Mayhew

Tower of London, City Trail

Katie in (the Tower of) London

Katie in (the Tower of) London


 

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Bookbench by Charlotte Brown

Queen Square Park & Garden (next to St Ormond Street Hospital), Bloomsbury Trail

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good bookbench, must be in want of a wife

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good bookbench, must be in want of a wife


 

How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

Bookbench by Gerard Strong

City Hall, Riverside Trail

Watch out lady with the carrier bag, Green Death is behind you

Watch out lady with the carrier bag, Green Death is behind you

Books About Town 2014 Cressida Cowell How to Train your Dragon Gerard Strong detail


 

Dr Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary

Bookbench (and definition interpreter) by Scriberia

Burney Street, Greenwich Trail

This very witty bookbench stands next to a plaque dedicated to Doug Mullins, Master Dairyman of the area

This very witty bookbench stands next to a plaque dedicated to Doug Mullins, Master Dairyman of the area


 

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

Bookbench by Beth Quinton

Naval College Gardens, facing the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance Greenwich Trail

The lyf of a bookbench so short before it is auctioned off in October, the craft of creating one so long to learn

The lyf of a bookbench so short before it is auctioned off in October, the craft of creating one so long to learn


 

Stormbreaker: the Graphic Novels by Anthony Horowitz

Bookbench by Kanako & Yuzuru (original illustrations) and Mike Snowdon

Bank of England, City Trail

Alex Rider: stormbreaker, not bank raider

Alex Rider: stormbreaker, not bank raider

Books About Town 2014 Anthony Horowita Alex Rider Stormbreak- the Graphic Novel Kanako & Yuzuru Mike Snowdon profile


 

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

Bookbench by Thomas Dowdeswell

Opposite Senate House, between Malet Street & Torrington Square, Bloomsbury Trail

But where is it?

But where is it?

Ah, there it is. Must have spent the past three weeks in Room 101

Ah, there it is. Must have spent the past three weeks in Room 101

Books About Town 2014 George Orwell 1984 Thomas Dowdeswell front

 


 

The characters of Jacqueline Wilson & Nick Sharratt

Bookbench by Jane Headford

St Paul’s, City Trail

Books About Town 2014 Characters by Jacqueline Wilson & Nick Sharratt Bookbench by Jane Headford back with St Paul's


 

Elmer by David McKee

Elmer the Patchwork Elephant Bookbench by Giles Boardman

Greenwich Park, Greenwich Trail

I wonder which one is Wilbur

I wonder which one is Wilbur


 

Charles Dickens

Dickens in Liverpool Bookbench by the pupils of Hillside High School, Bootle

On the corner of Cheapside and New Change, City Trail

What Miss Havisham may have looked like on her big day if things had been oh so different

What Miss Havisham may have looked like on her big day if things had been oh so different


 

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Bookbench by Ivan Liotchev

South Bank, London Bridge, Riverside Trail

The ghostly figure here is more reminiscent of Marley from A Christmas Carol

The ghostly figure here is more reminiscent of Marley from A Christmas Carol


 

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

Bookbench by Paula Bressell

Paternoster Square, St Paul’s, City Trail

Bookbench, I like you very much, just as you are

Bookbench, I like you very much, just as you are


 

Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett

The Librarian Bookbench by Paul Kidby

City Hall, Riverside Trail

Ook-bench!

Ook-bench!


 

Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

Rest Your Stalks Bookbench by Oliver Dean

Senate House, Bloomsbury Trail

Is the 'Do not sit or climb on wall' sign in the background (right) for humans or triffids to obey?

Is the ‘Do not sit or climb on wall’ sign in the background (right) for humans or triffids to obey?


 

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Planet 42 Bookbench by Deven Bhurke

Opposite Greenwich station, Greenwich Trail

The answer to everything or how many minutes to wait until the next DLR train for central London?

The answer to everything or how many minutes to wait until the next DLR train for central London?


 

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

The Capital of the Imagination Bookbench by Laura Elizabeth Bolton

Festival Gardens, St Paul’s, City Trail

When Peter (Pan) met (St) Paul

When Peter (Pan) met (St) Paul


 

Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

Bookbench by Valerie Osment

Inside Stanfords Travel Bookshop, Covent Garden, Bloomsbury Trail

It looks like someone thought Michael Palin was the original author behind the title

It looks like someone thought Michael Palin was the original author behind the title


 

… and the 51st bookbench chosen by readers of The Guardian is …

 

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Bookbench by Chris Riddell

King’s Place, York Way, King’s Cross

I searched everywhere in London for Neverwhere. Finally ...

I searched everywhere in London for Neverwhere. Finally …

Books About Town 2014 Neil Gaiman Neverwhere Chris Riddell Guardian side


 

Mini Bookbenches!

The Putney Exchange Shopping Centre in South West London is a supporter of the Books About Town project. It has sponsored four mini bookbenches designed by local schools and artists to promote literacy and foster strong links within the Putney community. The four mini bookbenches are presently (August 2014) being displayed in shops around The Exchange.

Katie in London by James Mayhew

Mini bookbench by Hurlingham Primary School

One Small Step shoe shop, Putney Exchange

Fabulous

Fabulous


 

The Borrowers by Mary Norton

Mini bookbench by Brandlehow Primary School (Maple Class)

Waterstones’s book shop, Putney Exchange

Delightful

Delightful

Mini Books About Town Putney Exchange Brandlehow Primary School Mary Norton's The Borrowers back


 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Mini bookbench by Mar Rubio in association with the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability

Toy Stop, Putney Exchange

The curious incident of a mini bookbench in the window of the Toy Stop toy shop (bottom left)

The curious incident of a mini bookbench in the window of the Toy Stop toy shop (bottom left)


 

An Elephant for Breakfast by Zella

Mini bookbench by Mandii Pope

Huttons, Putney Exchange

The shop owner of Huttons told me that several people have enquired about buying this particular mini bookbench. They will have to try their luck at the charity auction on 7th October 2014

The shop owner of Huttons told me that several people have enquired about buying this particular mini bookbench. They will have to try their luck at the charity auction on 7th October 2014 (details of which can be found at the Books About Town website here)


More on the Books About Town project, special events, guest appearances and the auction in October can all be found at the official website here.

TLT x

 

BT Artboxes  BT Art Box 'Union Jack 2012' by Peter Blake & Swarovski    and the London 2012 Mascots  Wenlock Big Ben were once about town also.

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2 Responses to London … there’s no time to sit down when trying to find all fifty-one ‘Books About Town’ bookbenches across the city

  1. SC says:

    Lovely photographs! I also loved doing the book trails this summer; I wrote about them here (and the header image on my blog is a detail from the Adrian Mole bench too): http://oblomovssofa.wordpress.com/2014/10/06/my-summer-of-bookbenching/

  2. Giles Boardman says:

    Hello TLT,

    Thank you so much for featuring Elmer! I now appear on web searches as a sort-of-artist, as well as in my other more prosaic personae. I too am a bit of a snob and rather vain and find this extremely gratifying.

    Kindest regards

    PS Wilbur’s the black and white elephant, bottom right.

    Giles

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