New indie bookshop nods to Bristol's 'radical past and present'

New indie bookshop nods to Bristol's 'radical past and present'

A new independent bookshop which nods to Bristol’s “radical past and present” has opened in the city’s Harbourside area, near where Edward Colston's statue was brought down last year.

Around 160 people turned up to watch author, historian and broadcaster David Olusoga open Bookhaus this month, which is located in the new site of Wapping Wharf, a retail and business area. 

The shop is opposite the plinth where the statue of Colston, a transatlantic slave trader, was removed during last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests, and near the museum where it was subsequently put. 

“While being a general stock holding shop, we are going to reflect Bristol's radical, cultural and political past and present,” said shop manager Darran McLaughlin.

“We’re going to have a strong Black writing section, and lots of stuff on the history of empire and colonialism. The context is very strong here. Bristol made its wealth on the back of the transatlantic slave trade.

"Now the statue has been re-homed in the M Shed museum. Our shop is right behind the M Shed, across the harbour from where the statue of Colston stood. Therefore we intend to offer a lot of Black writing and works that explain the history of all this."

McLaughlin previously worked in Ottakar's, then Books Etc, before becoming a non-fiction buyer at Borders head office, and a buyer for Lasgo Chrysalis. He then became the book and print buyer at the Royal Academy of Arts, before leaving the book industry for a decade to work in craft beer, and then politics. 

Bookhaus will carry titles focusing on radical politics, Black British writing, works in translation and queer writing, in addition to nature and ecology titles. Children’s books have also been selling well since it opened on 5th August. 

It is owned by Kevin and Jayne Ramage, who also own four other indie shops, including Aberfeldy Bookshop, which won Indie Bookshop of the Year in 2009, The Highland Bookshop in Fort William, Grove Bookshop in Ilkley and Lyme Regis Bookshop.  

A programme of events, observing Covid-19 restrictions have been given the go-ahead, the first of which, an evening with Vincent Bevin presenting The Jakarta Method (Public Affairs), is completely sold out. 

“It’s a modern shop, independent and forward thinking,” Laughlin added.