Wendy Goes to Halewood

TKE Bookseller Wendy Foster Leigh recently traveled to England (turning us green with envy) and agreed to write it up. Retired English teacher and administrator, she finds nothing more wonderful than having a cat on the knee and a book in hand. She is an Anglophile and lover of mystery and fanstasy novels–often set in the wilds of Lancashire or Yorkshire.

Bookshops are a part of my life. The first bookshop I remember is Halewood & Sons at 37 Friargate, Preston, Lancashire, England. Halewood & Sons, Antiquarian and Export Booksellers since 1867, could serve at the front plate of a Dickens’ novel. Its façade dates back to the 1800s and the banner painted above the upper stories windows says “The Temple of the Muses.” As a child my mother took me each Saturday to the Harris Free Library, the open market, and a bookshop, which was most likely to be Halewood. David Halewood, current, 5th generation bookseller, would also have been a child, but his father would have been standing outside on sunny days or inside watching customers on rainy ones. Now, David stands in that same spot. During the past 40 years I have visited the shop on each trip home, and David Halewood is a constant in those visits.

No shelf in the shop is empty and the shelves reach the ceiling. The passages between rooms have books piled up in stacks and the centre of the room is an island of more books. I have never been able to reach the top shelves and am curious as to what treasures are up there. My library contains many Anthony Trollope volumes because they are at my 5’ height. This trip I met a woman in a hurry to find a small volume of poetry for her hour trip on the train to Manchester and overheard a gentleman asking about a long forgotten volume of travel and adventure. I chose my small, leather bound volume of rhyming poetry for its cover, the scribbling of the original owner who was awarded this volume as a school prize, and the music in the words. With such an eclectic array of books, it is hard to imagine the knowledge in the bookseller’s head.

A few years ago I sent David a copy of TKE owner Betsy Burton’s book, The King’s English. This year he gave me a privately printed history of Halewood & Sons and five generations of booksellers including those volatile years of two wars. There are three quotes from the Halewood history that I want to remember:

  1. “Buy books because they speak to you across the intervening years, buy books because they enrich not the bank balance, but your inner life, buy books because they encase the ideas by which and for which you live.”
  2. “…regard business not merely as a means of making money, but rather a form of service to the community, involving pride in the work itself…”
  3. “Books are the furniture of the mind.”

One Response to Wendy Goes to Halewood

  1. Anne says:

    Thank you for giving us a glimpse!

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