Winchester Revisited

Interim Manager's Notice, Winchester

Interim Manager's Notice, Winchester

Phil Groom writes:

On Monday this week I was in Winchester, so decided to pop along to the former SPCK, reputedly trading independently as Winchester Christian Bookshop, to check out the wow factor for myself. Like the others we’ve seen, however, the shop was closed, no entry permitted without the express authority of the Charity Commission’s Interim Manager, Peter Gotham.

Winchester, once home to one of SPCK’s flagship stores, hub of the company’s secondhand trade, is now home to a whitewashed tomb, all sign of the shop’s former glory and ownership painted over:

Former SPCK Bookshop, Winchester - July 20, 2009

Former SPCK Bookshop, Winchester - July 20, 2009

Inside, as I peered through the darkened doorway, the corpse — for that, sadly, is what I was looking at — looked surprisingly healthy:

Surprisingly well stocked

Surprisingly well stocked

But neglected, unattended, unopened post strewn across the doormat, piling up in the doorway:

Winchester's unopened mail

Winchester's unopened mail

How long? I wondered. The STL Bulletin – top right in the picture – was the giveaway: that’s the July edition, sent out back in May; we’re now into the August issue. That’s at least two months’ mail simply stacking up, probably more — untouched, I suspect, since the Interim Manager’s notice was posted on the door.

Is there no one in Winchester or in the other towns where this is happening — no local church leaders or Christian groups — willing to step into the breach, to approach the Charity Commission and say, “Allow us to take this off your hands…”? Is there no one capable of drawing up a business plan, of envisioning a way forward?

SPCK abdicated their responsibility back in 2006. The Brewers have shown themselves to be incompetent clowns if not outright criminals and have, quite rightly, been disenfranchised. The Charity Commission have seized control but, if this evidence is anything to go by, they don’t appear to have the resources — nor, perhaps, the resolve — to run the show. It’s protective custody rather than proactive concern.

Where do we go from here?

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5 responses to “Winchester Revisited

  1. Valiant for Truth

    One worrying extra about Winchester is that for a time it was run as a “franchise” until the person in question could no longer continue. Could that person be in the firing line from the Interim Managers? Looks like all that stock could be an asset waiting to be cashed in to pay all the debts to staff, suppliers, pension fund.

  2. I’m usually pretty laid back (I think) but I’m incandescent with rage at the moment. It’s the white wash that gets to me and it’s not just the white wash on that shop’s walls. I do hope that the CC and our wonderful SPCK are in some kind of discussion about those shops. Damn I’m angry 😦

  3. Valiant for Truth

    The problem is the ownership of the shops, which in some cases is the Brewers on the understanding that for seven years from November 2006, the premises are used for Christian bookselling. Who would want the Brewers as landlord, or the uncertainty of the properties being sold to meet debts? Other properties are still owned by SPCK who may wish to sell as soon as the investigation is over. Not a certainty for a prospective business, which is why the sooner all of this is sorted, the better.

  4. Pingback: Loose Ends and a Lost Cause? « SPCK/SSG: News, Notes & Info

  5. My exoerince was one of great sadness when I saw the state of the former SPCK bookshop on Winchester. It was like a lost ship on the ocean with no one caring or bothering to do anything about it. This was a shop where the staff cared about their customers and would willingly make the effort to obtain anything one needed. We are now left with no shop locally where such a service can be obtained and to see it as it is now is extremely upsetting.

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