Don’t quite know why, since as far as I remember I’ve never been there, but somehow today it struck me as unbearably sad to see the stripped-out windows of the former Sincil Street SPCK Lincoln shop in this estate agent’s flyer (zoomed in shot of the shop front further down).
I guess what struck me was the hardened finality of it as the culmination of the Brewers’ betrayal — I can think of no other word for it — of SPCK’s trust in handing the shops over to them, of the utter failure of SSG to live up to even their own expectations.
It prompted me to look back at the October 2006 Press Release, still available on the SSG website as I write, but also available as a pdf here (200kb)…
Saint Stephen the Great Charitable Trust and SPCK share a strong commitment to communicate the richness of the Christian Faith. Saint Stephen the Great Charitable Trust intend to employ a vigorous marketing strategy for the SPCK Bookshops. “People in our stressful, modern age, care deeply about spirituality and long for a deeper faith. SPCK Bookshops will offer a primary solution to these questions of faith” said Mark Brewer, Chairman of Saint Stephen the Great Charitable Trust, in a press release accompanying the transaction. “SPCK will continue into its fourth century with its shops as places where all people, Christian or otherwise, are welcome and given the chance to widen their spiritual horizons.”
“We are delighted to have found partners with a similarly strong vision and a determination to invest in the mission of presenting the Christian message imaginatively and effectively in an attractive environment”, commented SPCK’s new Chairman, Bishop Michael Perham in the same press release.
Under the new arrangements, SPCK Bookshops will continue to serve the broad and diverse SPCK customer base, and expanding the products that it offers those customers. Saint Stephen the Great Charitable Trust will also place a major emphasis in online marketing at http://www.spckonline.com, utilising the internet and harnessing the market power and presence of the venerable SPCK and its 308 year-long history in the U.K.
In this way we believe the Bookshops will be both maintained and strengthened, remaining broad and looking ambitiously to a growing future.
We believe that this is good news for the whole Christian community.
If the Brewers had followed through on that initial commitment to remain broad in their outlook — “to communicate the richness of the Christian Faith”, developing the shops “as places where all people, Christian or otherwise, are welcome and given the chance to widen their spiritual horizons” — then it would, indeed, have been “good news for the whole Christian community”, then perhaps we might not have come to this present pass.
As things have emerged, however, it seems that we can only wonder, watch and weep for what has been lost.
Or is that really all we can do? Even as I write 30a Sincil Street, RIP, I am reminded that the letters RIP have more than one meaning: Resurrection in Progress! If you visit Lincoln, be sure to go a little further along Sincil Street to the Central Market where you’ll find that miracle in progress as Lincoln is Saved by a Unicorn!
SPCK/SSG may be over and done in Lincoln, but Christian bookselling is alive and kicking: long may it continue.
Full details of Unicorn Tree Books below.
Unicorn Tree Books
35-40 Central Market
Lincoln LN5 7ET
Phone: 01522 525557
Fax: 01522 830896
Hodgson Elkington Flyer originally downloaded from
Thanks to UTB for posting the link that led me to this on Dave Walker’s shop round up page