Category Archives: Winchester

Loose Ends and a Lost Cause?

Phil Groom writes:

1. Loose Ends from the Cartoon Competition: Two New Entries

First from Mousey:

From Mousey: There must be countless ways to sort your cistern

From Mousey: There must be countless ways to sort your cistern

Second from our photographer in Durham, a peek inside the abandoned Brewermobile. David Keen said the Brewers were left with no room for manoeuvre, but I can see — OK, let’s not go there. A precaution against swine flu, perhaps?

Phibreman strikes again: Inside the Brewermobile

Phibreman strikes again: Inside the Brewermobile

Thanks guys!

2. A Lost Cause?

OK, perhaps I am unduly pessimistic: perhaps someone does care. Be that as it may, somehow I missed this photo of the Winchester shop window from my last post, but it seems to sum up the state of the place most aptly:

Winchester - Who Cares?

Winchester's Shop Window - Who Cares?

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?

Picking up the Pieces: the Wow Factor in Winchester’s Christian Bookshop

Phil Groom writes:

They say a picture paints a thousand words. I guess that’s just as well because on this occasion, words almost failed me. Then I thought of a few captions: other suggestions welcome.

Anyway, this is the mess that the Charity Commissioners must now pick up from J Mark and Phil W Brewer’s so-called mission to rescue Britain’s Christian Heritage in Winchester. Pictures taken on May 16, 2009, by — well, that would be telling, wouldn’t it? You know who you are: thank you.

Winchester: Front Entrance

The door is open...

Winchester Window Display, 16/05/2009

Let's see what's in the window...

Winchester 3 - Opening Times 16/05/2009

Opening times: let's go in

Winchester - Ownership Info 16/05/2009

Handle with care: stock may be fragile

I said, 'Handle with care - stock is fragile!'

I said, 'Handle with care - stock may be fragile!'

We really care about our stock (but we don't care where it came from)

We really care about our stock (but we don't care about its history)

We practice a deep and sincere spirituality

We practice a deep and sincere spirituality...

Strategic Planning Department, Brewer and Pritchard PC

Around the Back: Strategic Planning Department, Brewer and Pritchard PC

SPCK or SSG? Bookshop Photocall

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:

SPCK Trustees' Report and Accounts, Year Ended 30 April 2008

Annual Report 2008

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.

SPCK Trustees’ Report and Accounts, Year Ended 30 April 2008 (pdf, 944kb)

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:

Book chain drops SPCK name

Bookseller, 07.11.07: Book chain drops SPCK name

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?

Birmingham

Birmingham, September 2008, courtesy of Pauline Edwards.

Birmingham, September 2008, courtesy of Pauline Edwards.

Pauline has posted more photos in facebook, but you’ll need to be logged in to facebook to see them…

Cambridge

Cambridge, 17th Feb 2008, photo by Jeremy (blog.parsonses.co.uk), retrieved from Dave Walker's blog as reposted at opendebatenotlibelthreats.blogspot.com

Cambridge, 17th Feb 2008, photo by Jeremy (blog.parsonses.co.uk), retrieved from DW

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

Canterbury

Canterbury, 11th Feb 2008, photo by Dave Walker (retrieved from his blog, reposted at opendebatenotlibelthreats.blogspot.com)

Canterbury, 11th Feb 2008, photo by Dave Walker (retrieved from his blog and reposted at opendebatenotlibelthreats.blogspot.com)

Chester

 

Chester, 20th June 2008

Chester, 20th June 2008, photo by Peter Owen (with apologies to Peter for the delay in adding this)

Exeter

 

Exeter, June 2008, courtesy of Neil Denham

Exeter, June 2008, courtesy of Neil Denham (with apologies to Neil for the delay in adding this!)

the Exeter shop stripped bare, 19/09/2008, courtesy once again of Neil Denham

And so it ends: the Exeter shop stripped bare, 19/09/2008, courtesy once again of Neil Denham

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.

Lincoln

Lincoln, June 2008

Lincoln, June 2008, photographer unknown

Picture from Hodgson Elkington’s flyer advertising the premises to let.

Salisbury

Salisbury, 2nd Sept 2008

Salisbury, 2nd Sept 2008, photo by Matt Wills, A very ordinary title for a blog...

Winchester

 

Winchester, 31st August 2008

Winchester, 31st August 2008, photo by Matt Wills, A very ordinary title for a blog...

Worcester

 

SPCK Worcester, 26th July 2008

Worcester, 26th July 2008, photo by Doug Chaplin, MetaCatholic

York

 

Photo by Richard and Gill, Flickr

York, 22nd May 2008, photo by Richard and Gill, Flickr

York, 9th July 2008, photo by Peter Owen (with apologies to Peter for the delay in adding this)

York, 9th July 2008, photo by Peter Owen (with apologies to Peter for the delay in adding this)

 
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.