Writing in the West Ham Till I Die blog, this is what he said about Newham Bookshop.
I like reading, I love West Ham and I’m also curious about east London’s past. And I had heard good things about Newham Bookshop, located right where the Barking Road meets Green Street. Funny I had never been there before. They had a special Christmas sale on (20% off for all books) with late opening hours, so I entered into a wonderful world, filled with piles and shelves of books, plenty of community spirit, friendly banter and a warm welcome. The latter was delivered by Vivian Archer, proud manager, heartbeat and soul of the shop and an absolute institution. Due to the fact her parents hail from Germany she quickly caught upon the fact that I was from the same country. After being greeted in German I told her about being a fervent West Ham fan, how I came to support them in the first place and then I was dumbfounded to hear her ask if I was HamburgHammer by any chance.
Yes, alright, for a brief minute I thought I was actually a minor celebrity in east London now (which served as the spark for various jokes and set ups both online and at the stadium, everyone knowing about HamburgHammer becoming somewhat of a running joke among the WHTID community). The quite logical explanation though is that Vivian apparently reads the blog every day, so when she met a German West Ham fan in her shop she took a punt with her guess – and frankly, how many other German West Ham fans are likely to walk into Newham Bookshop on a Tuesday evening? Probably not many.
I felt at home right away. Mince pies and nice winterly spiced hot drinks were being served up to the loyal customers (I got some too despite being a first time visitor) and I obviously also bought a few books (and some more a few days later). The shop felt more like a community centre and I got the impression that there are plenty of customers there who have been buying their books from Vivian for ages. I just love shops like this and I hope it keeps on trading for many years to come.
I had some lovely chats about West Ham, Brexit and Germany, both with Vivian and John Newman who also works at the bookshop and I want to thank them a lot for their hospitality and putting up with me. If you enjoy reading more than just your gas bill leaflet or the sports pages of the tabloids, go there!
They have a great section of children’s books, but also a lot of stuff on West Ham, football and sports in general, biographies, history, travel books, fiction, non-fiction, classics and obviously a lot of books about east London. They will probably order the latest John Grisham bestseller for you if you ask for it, but if you are looking for something a bit more special, just put yourself in their capable hands and minds, you won’t be disappointed and leave the shop happy and eager to get your nose between the pages of your new books sharpish.
They probably know the right book for you before you even know it yourself! Oh, how I would love to have that bookshop in my neighbourhood in Hamburg!
About HamburgHammer, in his own words
Radio journo, big West Ham fan from Germany from my time of working experience in shipping, working in Barking of all places. Used to be a season ticket holder in the Lower West Stand, near the corner flag.
First player whose name I had on the back of my West Ham shirt was… Tim Breacker. So you can see I don’t go for the expensive flashy type of players, but appreciate the hard-working, utterly professional team player.
I cannot wait for West Ham to see better times and become a properly established Premier League side playing in the OS. COYI!
Interested in learning more about Newham Bookshop and some of the people connected with it? We have four lessons for classroom or family use developed from On the Record’s oral history project centered around Newham Bookshop, Writing and Reading Newham. Click here for full details.
We are proud that Newham Bookshop is LoveReading’s Bookshop of the Month. The article features a Q&A with Vivian Archer, which you can read here.