Greenwich Book Place and Gallery

Remember this? The long-running saga of David Herbert and his shop at 258 Creek Road. I’d give you the links, but it would take up most of the post. Briefly his Victorian ex-pub house/shop was in the way of a new development on Creek Road and instead of caving in, he decided to fight the demolition, despite tree root damage to the rear that made it nigh-on uninhabitable. If you want to read more, you’ll find a good dozen posts about it in the archives.

David Herbert did, perhaps amazingly, win his fight. The place now stands proud and re-pinned, if a little lonesome, along Creek Road and is now re-opened as the kind of meandering, up-and-down, all-over-the-place second hand book store I love. He more or less stayed open throughout the battle but his stock was much depleted. It now appears to be flourishing again, though he still keeps wonderfully eccentric hours. The best thing is to check when you’re wandering past – if the door’s open, so is the shop.

There are several labyrinthine rooms, the rear one of which still smells of the former damp problems – I guess that sort of thing takes a long while to readjust. especially when the place is full of paper. As is traditional with such stores, it’s choc-a-bloc with books in the corridors, on the floors, windowsills, all over the place. He even has a small website though it deals more with pictures than books.

Like all secondhand bookshops, it’s hard to know what you’ll find and prices appear to be as random as anywhere else. I ended up with a turn-of-the-20th-Century travel guide to Northern India, so I am now fully aware of the hazards of hiring native servants and visiting ‘the deserted’ Red Fort on a two-day camel ride.

Most of Greenwich used to be as bohemian as this. I am slowly discovering there are rather more little corners that remain so than might first appear, but they need to be talked about on other occasions.  In other news, I understand Greenwich Book Time, the remainder shop opposite the Picturehouse, is now reopened and, according to Ebspig, ‘looking smart and smelling of paint.’ I’m delighted, but hope that David Herbert resists the temptation to spruce up. I wish him the best of luck – he has fought a hard and lonely battle for his little Creek Road Castle. We need people like him.

3 Comments to “Greenwich Book Place and Gallery”

  1. Paul T says:

    It is a lovely shop, with a great collection of strange Victorian books, a lot of 50s and 60s tomes on politics, sociology… and espionage, plus a cool selection of early Penguin and Pan paperbacks. Pricing up new stock has been long delayed because of David’s illness, I am glad to see he is apparently improving.

  2. OldChina says:

    I love this shop, and certainly admire David’s ramshackle style. I just wish that old travel books weren’t his main staple as my interest in that is limited. I make a point of going in a lot and am desperate to find something that I want to buy but often have to leave empty handed. I’ve bought all of his Kipling, Conan Doyle, Rider Haggard, HG Wells etc!

    I went in one evening a few months ago and he hadn’t sold a book all day. I immediately bought one so that he at least made £2.75 for his efforts.

    The last book I bought had a brilliant and touching inscription from a husband to his wife in it… dated 1889.

  3. Rebecca says:

    I only just discovered this shop. I had assumed it was closed everytime I passed it in the past, but on Saturday I popped in and found it difficult to tear myself away. I passed it having rummaged through the Clocktower market, up to the Junk Shop, on my way to Beehive and the Emporium.
    Great to see an addition to the Greenwich previously loved offerings