Word is spreading about the Marjorie R floating bookshop in Leeds, as Sally Clifford found out.
MOORED in the trendy waterside setting of Leeds dock, Marjorie R remains oblivious to her global fame.
Queues of visitors, some from abroad, recently flocked to see this 77-year-old former workhorse of the waterway after seeing TV and media coverage of her National Historic Ships (NHS-UK) award acknowledging her transformation from coal carrier to floating bookseller.
Launched in November, Hold Fast Bookshop, christened after the nautical saying often tattooed across sailors’ knuckles to hold on in stormy seas, has secured Marjorie R’s future as the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Coun Al Garthwaite, and Alderwoman Angela Gabriel discovered when they popped in to meet Marjorie R and her proud owners Chris and Victoria Bonner.
Marjorie R has been part of the Bonner family for 10 years. Originally a houseboat, it was the obvious change of use for Victoria, a book lover and former librarian.
After viewing the extensive range of new and pre-loved books on board, Coun Garthwaite, who is also an avid reader, purchased two books.
“As Lord Mayor I like to come and visit any places in Leeds, but especially those that have won prestigious awards like this,” said Coun Garthwaite.
“And, being an avid reader, it is a treat to visit a bookshop as part of my general work day.”
Interestingly, Coun Garthwaite has an interest in waterways. While running a media production company she helped to produce the Lottery-funded film Yorkshire from the Aire which involved chatting to owners of converted coal barges along the River Aire.
During their visit Coun Garthwaite and Alderwoman Gabriel also learned about the important people in Marjorie R’s past through the onboard photographs of the barge’s namesake, Marjorie Reed, the wife of Reginald Reed who was a consultant director for Hargreaves, and her skipper Norman Claxton.
“Everything I have seen seems to be really innovative and interesting. A fantastic use of an old coal barge and well worthy of this award,” said Coun Garthwaite.
“It is nice to have recognition from the Lord Mayor of Leeds and because she is such an avid reader we had a really nice chat about books and what she has been reading which is great,” added Victoria.