Stop Number Five: Foyles

Of course, where would I be without mentioning Foyles? It’s not exactly a little bookshop, but it is a bastion of reading, and it has slightly more of a niche market value than the many Waterstones shops we see every day (which, though admittedly excellent, do clog up high streets somewhat).

Foyles, on the other hand, is an independent bookstore that first opened in 1903 with the two Foyle brothers, William and Gilbert. Starting life in Cecil Court (where Goldsboro Books is located now) Foyles promoted themselves as educational booksellers, but by 1906 they’d already grown so much that they moved to Charing Cross. By 1929 the store on 113-21 Charing Cross Road was opened: the largest bookstore in the world at the time!

The current store survived the Blitz (despite a near miss) and is still open today, alongside another four London bookstores, and three in those far-flung cities of Birmingham, Bristol and Chelmsford. Today, the main shop has five floors of the largest range of books in the UK to browse, with a section devoted entirely to music- and they run a lot of events, almost all of which are free.

Is it the world’s greatest bookshop? It’s certainly pretty inspiring to explore, and I’d thoroughly recommend it if you an hour (or two) spare. When it comes to bookshops, there’s nothing else like it.


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