Your bookshops #31, Waterstones Bradford

Every now and then, well, quite regularly, I find myself involved in Twitter conversations about bookshops. During one a month or two ago, the bookshop being discussed was so bold as to join in, encourage a visit and offer advice about parking. I live too far away, but Twitter friend Pootle decided to follow their advice.

Waterstones Bradford
The Wool Exchange, Hustlergate, Bradford, BD1 1BL
Tel: 01274 723127 @WaterstonesBD1
Published: 5th October 2017

Encouraged to visit by the bookshop itself via its twitter account, I recently went to Bradford Waterstones, “The UK’s most beautiful bookshop”. Following recommendations, I parked at The Broadway multi-storey car-park across the road from the bookshop, which offers views of the Bradford skyline: a mix of modern glass and metal and historic sandstone edifices. Ordinarily I would not recommend driving in Bradford.

The Waterstones is a short walk across the road from the car park exit, located in a renovated stone church. Approaching from this direction, the only indication it isn’t a church is a small black box with a white W hanging within the stone arches of the church porch. The vestibule is occupied by a disused independent store space, and from here stone stairs lead you up to solid wood doors and the main body of the church itself housing the bookstore.

It turns out this is not the main entrance, one side of the church has been replaced by a glass wall with an entrance which makes the store a light airy place, with the roof timbers high above making it feel truly spacious. The bookshelves and gift displays are arranged on the stone floor and around the circular marbles pillars supporting the church structure, with ample space to wander at leisure. It is a quiet place, with a small seating area to one side beside a bargain bin where you can peruse prospective purchases. The building encourages a reverence for the books, and is a novel use of a structure which might have otherwise sunk into disrepair.

To the side of the shop counter, a curved stairway leads up to the café on the mezzanine. Where you can watch the shoppers outside through the glass wall, or watch the bookbuyers browse around the bookshelves. Sadly, they were all out of iced drinks by lunchtime on a Saturday though, so I made my way back out with my purchases.

Taking advantage of the ever-present Waterstones offer on buy one get one half price on selected books, I chose these four: The Maltese Falcon by Dashiel Hammett, The Boy on the Bridge by Mike Carey, The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch, and Lost Boy by Christina Henry.

Thank you very much to Pootle for following up this invitation to visit, I had no idea this was such a striking building and I am adding it to my must-visit list.

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