Durham Cathedral Bookshop: Cause to Celebrate, Cause for Concern

Phil Groom writes:

As most readers of this blog will be aware by now, on Friday, May 1st, 2009, the Chapter of Durham Cathedral issued the following statement:

Statement by the Chapter of Durham Cathedral

Durham Cathedral has today served notice under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 on the current operators and occupiers of Durham Cathedral Shop requiring them to vacate the premises on 30th April 2010. A new Cathedral Shop under the Cathedral’s management will open on 1st May 2010 opposite the Undercroft Restaurant where, with the restaurant, it will provide a focus for visitor facilities.

To enable the necessary work for the relocation of the shop, the exhibition in the Treasures will close at the end of 2009. A new exhibition will reopen in the Claustral buildings at a date to be announced.

1st May 2009
(Posted on Friday 1st May 2009)

The statement has been widely welcomed and hailed as a major step forward in the ongoing battle against the Brewer brothers and their depredations of the former SPCK bookshops.

Unfortunately I was offline when the news broke, hence the silence on this blog. I’d therefore like to place on record my personal thanks to David Keen and Matt Wardman for running with the story, as well as to those who twittered the news:

David Keen:

Matt Wardman: 

Twitter Search:

The fact that the boot has at last been firmly applied to the Brewers’ backside is definitely cause for celebration, but — as per the response issued by Matt — many concerns remain.

In particular, a massive question mark now hangs over the current Durham Cathedral shop staff. Whilst it appears that the Chapter may have no legal obligation to offer the shop staff continued employment, one would hope that they, as a Christian organisation, recognise a duty of care and pastoral responsibility for all who work in the Cathedral precincts, irrespective of whether or not they are employed directly by the Chapter.

Whatever happens, we can be sure that the new Chapter Clerk, Mr Philip Davis, won’t miss a trick: as the Dean himself has said,

A good Chapter Clerk is the key to the Cathedral’s efficiency, professionalism and financial stability.  It is conceivable that something might happen in the Cathedral without the Chapter Clerk’s knowledge, but I rather doubt it.

I take this opportunity to wish Mr Davis well in his new role and to encourage him to ensure that proper pastoral care for the Cathedral Shop staff is placed high up on the Cathedral’s list of priorities during the next twelve months — and beyond.

Finally, I would also like to thank all those who signed the Durham petition calling for this action. The petition will now be formally closed and over the next few days all signatories will be notified of this development.

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2 responses to “Durham Cathedral Bookshop: Cause to Celebrate, Cause for Concern

  1. Valiant for Truth

    I echo the call for care of the staff, and also concern for customers, especially locals who support the shop all year, and will continue to require Christian books and goods, and who will be concerned if reduced floor space means reduced range and stock levels. Durham has had a proper Christian bookshop for over 50 years and it would be sad if that did not continue to be the case.

  2. What a good post Phil Groom. We wish the Dean and his Chapter well in their endeavour to run the new bookshop. Hopefully they will listen to all concerns.

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