Documenting the transformation of: New Beacon Books
“Our existence is more than purely that of a bookshop. It’s a space for people to come and speak unapologetically.”
New Beacon Books, currently in its 51st year, is Britain’s first and oldest Black Bookshop. Shades of Noir will be documenting their progress and process throughout the stages of the renovation of the bookshop.
New Beacon Books was founded in 1966 by John La Rose and Sarah White as a publishing house. Named after the ‘The Beacon’ magazine, a cultural publication from 1930s Trinidad.
New Beacon Books emerged from a swell of radical ideas and actions. It became more than just a bookshop, an international book service and a community hub, as well as the first independent publisher for Caribbean and Black interest fiction and nonfiction in the UK.
Since the beginning John La Rose set up the bookshop to provide an outlet for the culture, history and politics of Black Britain and Europe, the Caribbean, Africa, African America and Asia.
‘‘Our history is encapsulated in these books’’ – Janice Durham
John La Rose was born in Arima, Trinidad, in 1927. La Rose arrived in Britain in 1961 and in 1966 he founded New Beacon Books; the very first Caribbean publishing house, bookshop and international book service. Growing up in a colonial society in the Caribbean made him acutely aware that colonial policy was based on a deliberate withholding of information from the population. There was also a discontinuity of information from generation to generation. Publishing, therefore, was a vehicle to give an independent validation to one’s own culture, history and politics – a sense of self – and to make a break with discontinuity.
51 years down the line the shop has been struggling to keep up with the times and had recently been faced with the possibility of closure; due to their difficulty in keeping up with the competition with mass online retailers. The New Beacon family weren’t ready to give up or lose hope. Through the power of social media platforms and it’s reach, the family decided to give it one last shot and spread the awareness of the New Beacon Books desperate situation and raise money for the bookshop with their video shared on their GoFund me page that went viral. The creation of their GoFund me page recieved an overwhelming mass of national and international support, donations and coverage. New Beacon Books met and even surpassed their intended target of £10,000.
Renaldo La Rose and Vanessa La Rose said to Blasted News in an interview:
“Anthony Joshua had our GoFund me campaign up on his Instagram. It’s wonderful when well-known people get behind a campaign and show support. Other well known people that have supported us are rapper Ty, Rodney P, Akala, Wretch 32, comedian Kojo and ex QPR and Reading footballer, Mikele Leigertwood. Jeremy Corbyn, MP, came and bought some books again recently. A huge thank you to everybody that made a donation. It does help, probably more than they know!”. –
The success of The New Beacon Books GoFund me campaign has been the catalyst for the bookshop’s transformation process. The funds will aid the creation of a website, an updated tilling system and the renovation of internal and external parts of the bookshop. With the aim of creating an update and modern community hub that it once was, to be able to host book signings, poetry readings and even create a children’s book corner.
‘‘We are pleased to announce that we will be starting phase one of our renovation project on the 1st May 2017. This phase will focus on transforming our ‘current office’ at the back of the shop, into a multi faceted community space. Once this phase is complete, we will focus on phase two – the front of the shop…exciting times.’’ – Renaldo La Rose
But more help is still required! New Beacon Books need more trades people to voluntarily come forward and help with this process of Phase 1; which consists in the transformation of their current back office at the back of the shop into a multifaceted community space. If you would like to get involved in the renovation project in anyway and/or can help with building materials, etc. Get in touch by email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow The New Beacon Books on Facebook, Twitter and instagram @newbeaconbooks
Further information and Links:
- The New Beacon Book Club. (New Beacon Book Club)
‘Whilst we undergo work on our new website, we thought we’d utilise the power of Facebook to bring our books to you. Every Monday we will list up to 10 books that you can purchase online from us – via Paypal.
Please note prices stated exclude postage charge of £4 or more depending on size of book.’
- NBB Mini Black Market
‘As part of our bid to prolong the life of New Beacon Books, raise vital funds and feed back into the community, we would like to present our second New Beacon Mini Black Market.
Our aim is to give a select number of entrepreneurs and small business owners, an opportunity/platform to sell their goods & services plus make links and network with other people in the community at each event. This is a mini market – with a select number of vendors at each market.’
Our next event will be held on Saturday 10th June from 11am – 6pm.
- BCC Short vid
‘Our history is encapsulated in these books’ – Janice Durham
- Interview with Renalso La Rose:
- OOMK: Black Books- The Story of Britain’s First Black Bookshop
‘This film, in which Arwa Aburawa interviews Sarah White, delves into the radical history of New Beacon Books.’:
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Opening hours and location:
76 Stroud Green Road
N4 3EN London, United Kingdom
Reduced days/hours throughout this period of renovation:
Wednesdays to Saturdays
1.30pm – 6pm