Updated 20th Sept 2008
Earlier this month Matt Wills posted photos of the Winchester and Salisbury branches, still decked out in their SPCK colours and signage almost two years on from the handover. More to the point, it’s now almost a year since SPCK withdrew the licence to trade under the SPCK name:
SSG (the former SPCK Bookshops)
In November 2007, SPCK withdrew the licence granted to Saint Stephen the Great Charitable Trust to use our name in relation to the Bookshops in view of their failure to abide by the terms of our agreement. It has proved a very difficult and distressing year for the shops and staff, and the process has involved us in a considerable amount of activity. There are a number of significant legal issues between SPCK and SSGCT that have not been resolved at the year end.
Not wishing to be outdone, it seems, Mark Brewer put his own spin on the story: it wasn’t so much a case of SPCK withdrawing the licence but of SSG feeling uncomfortable with SPCK’s theology:
Mark Brewer said that “with more and more SPCK [published] books carrying a decidedly ‘liberal’ agenda rather than traditional Christian values, [SSG] feel the time has come to distance themselves from SPCK”.
The Bookseller, 7th Nov 2007
Being a man of his word, of course, Mark immediately sent out a team of shopfitters and signwriters to dismantle all remaining vestiges of SSG’s association with SPCK. In fact, so worried was he by the possibility of SSG’s good name being tainted by association with SPCK that he immediately discontinued SSG’s use of the spckonline.com domain and rebranded the entire enterprise Third Space Books…
That’s the fantasy version, by the way: the reality, as many readers will be only too painfully aware, proved a little different. Mark’s grasp of “traditional Christian values” (complicated things like honesty, integrity and paying your workers and suppliers, for instance) were evidently a bit much for an “exceptionally well trained” lawyer from Brewer & Pritchard to get to grips with…
Here, A-Z by location, to help illustrate that reality, we present Matt’s photos together with a few others from around the country, all pictures taken this year. If you click through the pictures to the original posts you’ll find most of the photographers asking much the same question: why are (or were, as the case may be) the shops still trading under the SPCK name so long after the licence was withdrawn and so long after Mark Brewer himself declared that he wanted to disassociate SSG from SPCK?
Pauline has posted more photos in facebook, but you’ll need to be logged in to facebook to see them…
For some more recent Cambridge photos, SPCK signage cleared but SPCK/SSG carrier bags evidently in use (albeit as rubbish bags!) see Shame and Disgrace: St Stephen the Great, Cambridge
For more photos showing the now empty shelves — and an excerpt from an email describing what happened — see Neil’s report, SPCK Bookshop Exeter – R.I.P.
Picture from Hodgson Elkington’s flyer advertising the premises to let.
Thanks to those concerned for permission to reuse the photos here. Any others out there? Please either send them in or point me towards where they’re posted to help complete the picture. Pictures taken this year, please.
- Phil Groom. Posted 08/09/2008; updated 20/09/2008.