December 3, 2021

Flintshire book shop devastated by fire hails “incredible” public support


Spencer Industrial Estate: site of the blaze which destroyed Berwyn Books (Rept0n1x, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

An unimaginable loss for “one of the largest online and real bookshops in the North West,” based in Flintshire, UK, has been transformed into a hopeful new beginning, thanks to public support.

Berwyn Books, a large second-hand store based on the Spencer Industrial Estate in Buckley, suffered a devastating fire in November in which an estimated 400,000 books were destroyed.

According to a BBC report, among the treasures lost were a book signed by Queen Victoria and a first edition of the long-running UK TV guide, The Radio Times, from 1923.

In all, the stock was said to be worth around £1m, with “nothing salvageable,” according to shop manager Emma Littler. “For all of us it’s a place that was nothing but quirky, it was something that everyone was a part of.” A Facebook post on the Berwyn Books page simply stated “We don’t really know what to say, except everything’s gone.”

Nobody was hurt in the blaze, which occurred in the early hours of the morning and was tackled by firefighters for several hours. Pictures on the BBC report show the collapsed roof of the complex, along with the burnt-out shop front the morning after.

Crowdfunding to help the stricken store began almost immediately, and in a follow-up report for The Leader, a newspaper based in north Wales, Joe Robinson writes that “Thousands of books, filling two shipping containers, have been donated—and more are coming in all the time.” The report also carries pictures of dozens of bags containing donated books, dropped off at Buckley Town Football Club.

Such has been the scale of the community’s generosity that Berwyn Books say there are now  “plans in place to move forward.” They will hold a Christmas book fair on Saturday, December 11 at Northop Hall Cricket Club to raise further funds.

What could have been a fatal blow for the business now looks set to spark a rebirth—although, as with any recovery, it will take time. “It’s very exciting but we’re still taking it day by day.”



Tom Clayton is publishing executive at Melville House UK.