Saturday, August 05, 2023

The lost bookshops of Uppingham

I visited Uppingham - Rutland's second city - on Thursday. When I came to file away the photos I had taken, I was surprised to find I was last in the town in December 2016.

Because Uppingham used to be a town of second-hand bookshops, with the result that I went there regularly. On Thursday I found none of them still trading.

The photograph above shows Don Paddy's, a wine bar and coffee house on the Market Place. But I can remember when the first floor of the building was occupied by a bookshop. And if you doubt me, a little exploration of the area will yield this frieze of books, that marks what used to be the rear entrance to the shop.

Goldmark's is still there in Orange Street, but no longer sells books from its extensive premises. These days it concentrates on selling 20th-century British art and is well worth a visit if that's your taste. Mike Goldmark, its owner. has also been a publisher and brought out Iain Sinclair's early novels.

There used to be another bookshop in Orange Street and, after taking local advice, I can say it was in this modern building. I remember fishing a Roger Fulford paperback on Queen Victoria's Wicked Uncles out of the bargain box here once.

I looked for Staniland Books in High Street East, where it had moved from Stamford in 2011 or thereabouts, only to find the shop empty. The photo below was taken when it was still very much open.

On to High Street West and what used to be Forest Books, a shop that used to go back and back forever. It was the people in the print shop who told me where the other shop in Orange Street used to be.

They also told me of another shop in Uppingham that used to sell second-hand books and records that I can't place, so this post is clearly not a comprehensive list.

And, a few doors down, I wasn't surprised to find that The Rutland Bookshop wasn't trading. Over the years, a fair percentage of my collections of T.H. White and Richard Jefferies came from trips up the narrow staircases to its upper floors.

But let's end on a hopeful note: this sign was in the shop's window.

Perchance it is not dead but sleepeth.


tonyhill said...

I've looked through my copies of Drif's Guide to 'all the secondhand and antiquarian bookshops in Britain' and can only find three in Uppingham: Goldmark; The Rutland Bookshop; and Not Just Books in Market Place. That was in the 1991 Guide, though most of them just had the first two, so either you used to visit Uppingham before or after Drif, or he didn't cover 'all' (he never came to my bookshop!).

Jonathan Calder said...

Thanks for looking, Tony. I suspect Not Just Books was the one on the first floor of what is now Don Paddy's. Forest Books is probably post-Driff, while the one in Orange Street did not last long.

Well-Behaved Orphan said...

'Not Just Books' (Frances and Ron Waknell) was upstairs in the Market Place from 1988 until 1995 when the business moved to Oakham and changed its name.

Staniland's only closed in recent weeks.

Jonathan Calder said...

Thank you, WBO, and welcome back.