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Newham Bookshop holds auction to raise funds to move premises

PUBLISHED: 07:00 16 October 2018

May Gajjar, Vivian Archer and Etta Levi Smythe, who work at Newham Bookshop. Picture: Rhiannon Long

May Gajjar, Vivian Archer and Etta Levi Smythe, who work at Newham Bookshop. Picture: Rhiannon Long

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Newham Bookshop is holding an auction to raise money to move premises – two doors down the road.

Vivian Archer (centre), who's worked at the bookshop for 31 years, hopes the auction will raise the £25,000 needed for renovations to their new store. Picture: Rhiannon LongVivian Archer (centre), who's worked at the bookshop for 31 years, hopes the auction will raise the £25,000 needed for renovations to their new store. Picture: Rhiannon Long

Four months ago, shopkeeper Vivian Archer found out the landlord planned to turn half of the Barking Road building into offices, which would mean cutting the shop’s size by a third and closing for three months.

The Upton Park shop decided to move to a site two doors down, which has been derelict for years, but now it needs £25,000 for the renovation.

“It’s in a shocking condition, it needs everything doing to it,” the 70-year-old said.

“We decided to have an auction to raise money, and I put it on Twitter asking for donations.

Shopkeepers May Gajjar and Etta Levi Smythe, standing between the old and new premises. Picture: Rhiannon LongShopkeepers May Gajjar and Etta Levi Smythe, standing between the old and new premises. Picture: Rhiannon Long

“The response has been overwhelming. We had 2,500 retweets.”

Vivian had one customer come in and donate £500, while another, who doesn’t live in the area, gave £100. A charity football game between Clapton Community FC and Walthamstow FC last week raised £673 for the bookshop.

“It proves that independent bookshops are important in the community,” she said.

“They’re not a chain, they respond to the needs of the customers.

The new premises have been derelict for years, and need wiring and renovation work before they're fit for use. Picture: Rhiannon LongThe new premises have been derelict for years, and need wiring and renovation work before they're fit for use. Picture: Rhiannon Long

“They’re cultural hubs – we can even track how the community’s changing by the kinds of dictionaries we have to buy.

“Some people just come in for a chat and don’t buy anything, and we try to make it a place where they’re comfortable to do that.”

The shop’s been open for 40 years, and Vivian, who lives in Forest Gate, has worked there for 31.

“The area has changed massively since it opened,” she said.

May Gajjar, Vivian Archer and Etta Levi Smythe, who work at Newham Bookshop. Picture: Rhiannon LongMay Gajjar, Vivian Archer and Etta Levi Smythe, who work at Newham Bookshop. Picture: Rhiannon Long

“West Ham moving was a big blow.

“We’ve always had a relationship with the fans, and were part of the campaign to save the statue.

“It’s a shame but that’s the way it is. Luckily we didn’t rely on it, it was just nice to have.”

The auction will take place on October 21 from 6-8pm at The Wanstead Tap. There’ll be signed copies of Nigella Lawson, Mary Beard, Neil Gaiman and Ian Rankin books, and the auction will mark the launch of a crowdfunder to raise the required £25,000. Bobby Seagull and local author Vaseem Khan will be there as guests of honour.

The shop has its’ lease on the current site until the end of the year, and if enough money’s raised, it’ll be in the new premises in 2019.

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