23 May 2006

 

The Secular Hall Bookshop, now and then

The bookshop that occupies part of the frontage of Secular Hall, now trading as Frontline Books, is one of fifteen Independent bookshops featured in The Guardian (G2 section) on Monday this week (22nd May). The online text is
here.

There has been a bookshop associated with Secular Hall since it was opened in 1881, and even before that the bookseller who operated it at that time, William Henry Holyoak, (born: Sileby Jan 27, 1818, died: 1907) sold radical books at several other addresses in Leicester as far back as 1846.

Ned Newitt, local Labour historian, recently sent me the following poem by WHH that he found in The Leicester Reasoner dated 1876.

Let us lift up our voices in song
And rejoice in the freedom we’ve won
From the maze and the story
Of God and his glory
As taught by the priest to the young

The mists of life’s morning have faded
And we see with a vision more clear
That a man need not wait
For a blessed estate
If he works with a will whilst he’s here

There’s no help in a Heaven above
‘Tis a fable, a guile and a snare
And he who would tell
Of the terrors of Hell
Is a cheat, so let him beware.

Of deceiving his Brothers for gain
For of all crimes this is the worst
And he that is found
Living on this said ground
Ought not to complain if he’s cursed

Then we’ll work and we’ll strive to improve
The lot of each one of our band
For the life of today
Will be children to pay
A reward for the work of our hand

Let us all seek to aid one another
As onward we pass on life’s way
No nobler plan
Can be told you by man
That will lend to make brighter the day

It is reported in The Guardian that six independent bookshops went out of business in one week recently. Let's hope the bookshop can continue and thrive, aided by the regeneration of the area and of Secular Hall.

Comments:
We've lots of exciting plans at the bookshop (www.frontlinebooks.co.uk) which we'll be talking to people about over the coming months. But the most important single thing that will help independent bookshops, wherever they are, is that ordinary people spend their money with them.
 

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