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Write On! Features: The London Typewriters

by Natalia

The London Typewriters story began in 2012, when we went searching for something special and quirky to start as an independent enterprise.

After many trips to a variety of car-boot sales we failed to find anything unique, but then one day an old broken typewriter caught the eye of Alex who was only 18 at the time and that was the beginning of our story as London Typewriters.

As I watched Alex grow, I noticed he was technically minded, always curious to learn how mechanical equipment worked and, when broken, he would spend hours working out how to repair it. This particular broken typewriter ended up on his worktop. Alex rolled up his sleeves, equipped himself with simple tools, screwdriver, pliers, etc and confidently started dismantling the machine, making a written note of the process, bearing in mind he had no previous experience with its mechanics. He was fascinated by its design complexity and determined to make it work.

The sad looking typewriter had been neglected and left to decay before it was taken apart. Many parts were either broken or damaged; the keys and case were covered in mould, the rubber grommets had disintegrated and the ribbon ink had completely dried, so there was no impression on the paper.

With many hours of patient application, using logic and discovering one or two tutorials on YouTube, the typewriter had a new lease of life. “Hurrah!”Alex shouted and called across to me in delight: “The typewriter is working now!” It was truly a Eureka moment for us.

Our experience at repairing typewriters grew organically with each broken-down machine we acquired. Every manufacturer had a unique way of building their typewriters and most had many different models for use in various settings: industrial machines and those for home use, portables and folding typewriters for travelling with. Our knowledge of this vast array of machines built up gradually by restoring one or two typewriters a week and, over ten years later, our experience is considerable. However, from time to time, we still come across some challenging mechanics.

As soon as we realised (after a good number of sales on eBay) that there was a market for restored typewriters and there were people out there who wanted to use them not just for display but also  for writing, we designed and launched our own website.

In 2014, the London Typewriters website officially went online and Alex and I, alongside our day jobs, work together as a team to run our ‘cottage industry’ business of restoring and renovating these absolutely wonderful, almost forgotten, means of writing.

Recently, we worked long hours to provide our typewriters for use in an Oscar-winning film and also for use in some major international films. Various TV channels have hired typewriters from us for use in TV dramas, documentaries and video music clips. We have sold machines to famous authors and to prominent public figures. London Typewriters are very grateful to our customers who bought from us and have been using our lovingly restored machines.

We identified that there are four groups of typists who use typewriters on a regular basis.

The first are the young typists, age seven and older, who have never in their lives seen an antique typewriter. They are
intrigued by the mechanics and, as soon as they see the typewriter, the sparkle and desire to type is immediate.

The benefit of using a typewriter for this age group is that it improves their spelling. There is no autofill or autocorrect, which means they have to think beforehand about the correct spelling. This requires focus and concentration which, in turn, develops creativity and thoughtfulness. Then, the physical process of producing and seeing immediately, in front of them, the word in print is a very satisfying experience for a young person. They feel a sense of control over the whole process, from seeing their thoughts going to print in a very short space of time. And, last but not least, they really enjoy the ‘clackity-clack’ sound made by the keys.

The second group of typists are professionals; authors, playwrights, academics and  typists in their 20s- 30s or older.

Their choice of a typewriter is well-thought-through and they usually have an idea of which make or model they want. The typewriter enhances their creativity and becomes an essential tool for their profession. Also, staring at a typewriter with a blank A4 sheet of paper inserted seems to stimulate the imagination and aid originality, as opposed to a laptop or PC with an electronic screen full of colour and light and many icons to click and easily distract you from your real work.

The third group is the senior typists who are very experienced at using a typewriter and want to continue to use them, preferring and trusting a typewriter more than modern technology. There is also nostalgia for the past, when they were younger and used typewriters on a daily basis for work and letter writing at home.

The last group are customers who buy typewriters as presents to surprise their loved ones, wishing for them a successful writing career – parents for their children, grandparents for their grandchildren.

Of course, there are many other buyers. For us, each buyer is unique and requires our personal attention to meet their specific needs. Our job is to make sure they select the correct typewriter for their personal use and, hopefully, we satisfy their dream to create print the old-fashioned way.

So, it has been an eventful but a highly rewarding journey for us at London Typewriters. Over the years in this trade, we have met many interesting and imaginative people who shared their stories with us: stories such as typing letters to send to Marilyn Monroe, saving their typewriter from bombs that fell during WW2, typing letters of complaint to their local council, or learning to type after a surgery to restore coordination. All wonderful individuals with powerful life stories.

Personally, we are always delighted to meet typists who appreciate and share our passion for old and not so old typewriters.

We think that every household should have a typewriter, as it’s likely they won’t be around in a few decades. Therefore, our aim is to promote them to the community.

Happy typing from London Typewriters!

Connect with The London Typewriters via their website:, on Facebook:, Instagram: @londontypewriters and through their YouTube Channel:


You can read Write On! issue 21 online here and find it in libraries and other outlets. Previous editions of our magazines can be found here.

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We work together as a team to run our ‘cottage industry’ business of restoring and renovating these absolutely wonderful, almost forgotten, means of writing.