‘One of a kind’ book shop celebrates 80 years on Upminster high street

PUBLISHED: 07:00 15 August 2017 | UPDATED: 09:07 15 August 2017

Swan Books in Upminster

Swan Books in Upminster


No high street in Havering can lay claim to a more charming book shop than Upminster thanks to Swan Books.

Swan Books in UpminsterSwan Books in Upminster

The bookshop is celebrating its 80th anniversary on Corbets Tey Road this year.

Some older residents may even remember when it was known as Swan Libraries, and also offered a book-lending service alongside purchases.

Jeremy Scott, Swan Books’ manager for the last 30 years, told the Recorder: “What I enjoy most about running the shop is the customers, well the customers and the books.

“The people I work with as well, it’s always a pleasure.

Swan Books in UpminsterSwan Books in Upminster

“It’s always good when we’re able to help people looking for something specific.”

And Jeremy is proud of the shop’s unique charms.

“There’s certainly nothing else like us on offer in Havering,” he said.

“There are a few independent bookstores dotted around the country still so it’s great for Upminster to be able to say its got one.”

Swan Books in UpminsterSwan Books in Upminster

The shop has previously employed students and young people, and still has a strong connection with schools across Havering.

With the back to school season right around the corner, youngsters can even buy their entire term’s worth of textbooks from the store.

But the life of a charming independent book shop is not always an easy one, as Jeremy is more than prepared to admit.

“The key pressures on us come from things that are not within our control,” he told the Recorder.

Swan Books in UpminsterSwan Books in Upminster

“Rising business rates, parking and rent are all issues that keep coming up recently.

“Parking has become a particular problem, it’s got to the point in Upminster where some customers are scared they’re going to get nicked while they’re in here buying a book.”

According to the Booksellers Association’s annual membership figures, the number of independent book shops in the UK has almost halved in the last 11 years, from 1,535 in 2005 to 867 this year.

But the local community is still very much enamoured with Swan Books.

Upminster resident and mother-of-three Jackie Hatton, 53, who lives in Cranston Park Avenue, told the Recorder: “These days so many book shops are just as happy to sell you cappuccinos and croissants as the latest best seller, so it’s brilliant that Upminster has a one of a kind book specialist on its high street.

“Everything about the place feels authentic - its window displays are always amazing, as are its crammed shelves and ridiculously helpful staff members.

“Walking my sons to school when they were younger you could really see how shops like it play such a vital role in helping kids fall in love with reading – Upminster would be a much poorer and less interesting town without it.”

The Recorder is keen to hear your memories of Swan Books to help mark its 80th birthday in next week’s newspaper, whether its your first ever purchase there or a time customer service has gone above and beyond the call of duty.

Email your stories to

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Romford Recorder. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Related articles

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Romford Recorder