There’s an unwritten tradition for regular customers to Broadhurst’s Bookshop in Southport on the Merseyside coast, a hop, skip and train ride from Liverpool. The tradition starts with a visit to the store, obviously, a good browse of books, old and new, then the purchase of at least one book. This is then wrapped in brown paper and string, and gleefully carried home by the customer – which is where the unwritten tradition comes in. Regular customers leave the package wrapped until it’s time for the book to be read. That time could be many months later, but the joy of unwrapping a book from Broadhurst’s is all part of the magic.
Although the bookshop is not quite as old as the Victorian town it’s part of (a town incidentally that is famed for having one of the longest high streets in the UK, and for that high street being the inspiration for the development of the Champs Elysée), Broadhurst’s is Southport’s second oldest shop at just over a century old. It is nestled on a narrow side street in the town’s Market Quarter, with a Victorian glazed veranda, and to this day the shop itself is quintessentially Edwardian.
Broadhurst’s is a treasure trove of new books, including a colourful children’s section on the first floor, as well as second hand and antiquarian books across the first and second floors. Many of the old books are displayed in a range of Wernicke bookcases, adding to the charm, and in the winter months, a real fire burns, giving the bookshop a home from home cosiness.
The staff are as warm and welcoming as the fire on a cold winter’s day, with a genuine love for books. They will happily chat about their favourite reads when the shop has a lull in customers, and they’ll listen with interest to suggestions of books they’ve yet to encounter. The bookshop is not only a favourite of the locals, but also for people from far and wide who remember the store from holidays and times past. In fact, there’s a long-held view that a visit to Southport is not complete without a trip to Broadhurst’s.
There are two final points of note that deserve a mention. Firstly, there are some visitors to the bookshop who decline the invitation for their book to be wrapped. When that happens, browsers can be heard to gasp, though the staff smile, and complete the sale of the unwrapped treasure with kindness. And secondly, it is said that each of the staff has their own style of book wrapping. This will require additional book purchases to confirm the validity of the claim.
Words by Zoe Richards.
Useful Information about Broadhurst Books
Address: 5-7 Market Street, Southport, Merseyside, PR8 1HD
Website: Broadhursts of Southport
Telephone: 01704 532 064
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