THE LAST DAY AT WATERSTONES.BY STEVEN BENSON

On the first of February,I entered this edifice with a heavy heart and for the very last time.

I had remembered,from the early/mid 1980s,when this building had been an extraordinarily(I mean this literally) deserted building, a blackened, dust-begrimed extinct Behemoth of a shop:”Cripps”, which still, at its demise, in around 1980,employed dressmakers

To pass it, in its closed state, I felt I had to cross my fingers against who knows what peril or evil, so forbidding its  bleak prospect.

A few years later it became Hudson’s Book shop, where, I recall, in my mid 20s, browsing the LPs of its record section, a separate shop run by MDC.

MDC and Hudson’s became Dillons,in turn taken over, in the remorseless tread of capitalist expansion, by Waterstone’s(then WITH the inverted comma!), when the latter closed its huge ornate branch in a former concert hall , further up Bold Street.

Waterstones(now WITHOUT the inverted comma!) is , of course, a national chainstore; but is also beginning to become a Benjaminesque remnant of itself, stripped, to some degree, of its market value trappings, as the chain struggles (because of Amazon and the internet and Kindles) and closes some of its branches.

The Bold Street branch, (and Hudsons and Dillons in situ before it),was special; semi non-corporate. Lovingly refurbished, after the dark days after the death of Cripps,with its ironwork frontage and elegant staircase, spread over four and a half floors , and with the first Liverpool branch of Costa Coffee(whatever one thinks of this tax-evading conglomerate as an entity-this, again, was a quirky, individualistic Costa, if that is not an aporia): this was a book shop with character.

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It feels again as if my past were vanishing behind me :

Blacklers

Lewis’s

Now even Bold Street Waterstones

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So this is both a eulogy and an elegy: to a bookshop which, whilst part of a sequence of national chains, managed to retain its sense of self.

Most of the staff of the bookshop are to be re-located to the Liverpool One branch; and all of the Costa staff to other branches. That, at least, is good.

But I sit in the cafe-the ubiquitous, emblematic bookshop cafe-with the closed off two floors above and the half-empty shelves…. and it seems as if the ghosts of Cripps, Hudsons, MDC and Dillons are beckoning to me….

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R.I.P Bold Street Waterstones…and , yet, for evermore(in memory, anyway)

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Please feel free to add any reminiscences of Cripps, Hudsons, MDC, Dillons or Bold Street Waterstones below….

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3 thoughts on “THE LAST DAY AT WATERSTONES.BY STEVEN BENSON”

  1. It was a sad day for many, and I’m glad I was there for the final door closing, strangely, having been forced to stay against my will for thousands of them in the past. Don’t forget the others who shared our building: Athena were a fixture for many years, as was the religious bookseller, SPCK, and Rymans stationers paid us a visit in the 1980s.

    1. Yes, sad indeed; sorry to forget Athena: I remember it now; do not remember Ryman and, vaguely SPCK. If u worked there, I hope u have a new job to go to. This has been a terrible loss of a special bookshop

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