Sitting still on the water and close to Granary Square, one of the most unusual bookshops in London can be found in the form of Word on the Water. This barge book boat is worthy of a wander around and is the capital city’s only floating bookstore…
A history of Word on the Water
The bookshop is set against the backdrop of a former 1920s Dutch barge that has since been converted into a storefront. New and used books can be found in abundance both above and below deck. And the concept for Word on the Water the store was conceived by Paddy Screech, Jonathan Privett, and Stephane Chaudat.
In existence since 2010, it has to be said that the shop has seen more than its fair share of problems over the years. Aside from having to compete with an ever-growing online retail space, Word on the Water had trouble securing a permanent mooring.
This meant that, in the beginning, the bookshop had to change locations along Regents Canal every two weeks. Thanks to an ever-growing petition, it finally secured the spot it has now, close to Granary Square. Another set back came in the form of a leak, meaning that the boat nearly sank into the watery depths of the canal! In the process, most of the stock and furniture was lost.
How to visit Word on the Water
If you want to get the place to yourself, then you should visit earlier on in the day before the rest of the crowds arrive. For even fewer people still, you should aim to visit mid-week. Once inside the barge, you’ll find cosy chairs and plenty of places to sit down and peruse the shelves (just mind your head!)
Outside, music blares to the beat of London and even more books can be found displayed on the barge’s deck. Should you visit during the colder months, you’ll find a woodburning stove happily burning away, warming the place. The bookshop is open on a daily basis from 12-7, no matter whether it might be raining or not!
Things to do near Word on the Water
British Library: If you’re a fan of all things book-related, then the British Library is just a short walk away. In total, the collections of the library (all of which are not held on site) are estimated to comprise of some 150 to 200 million items! Today, you can visit the library for free and the permanent exhibition includes two copies of the Magna Carta (another copy can be found in the Cathedral City of Salisbury).
Light Tunnel: Situated below ground, in between Kings Cross and London St Pancras, the ever-changing light colour tunnel is well worth a visit on any trip to the area. The light wall is one of the longest in Europe and has only been in situ for a few years.
King’s Cross Swing: Yes, you read that correctly! A free swing is to be found in the pedestrian space between King’s Cross and St Pancras International. Lit up in neon lights at night, this ‘bird-cage’ shaped swing is free and fun! If you’re a fan of light displays, then you may well want to also visit the light display at night in Granary Square.
St Pancras Renaissance Hotel: One of the most luxurious hotels in London is that of the Renaissance Hotel. Located within a red-bricked building steps away from St Pancras International, highlights of this five-star hotel include its grand staircase and impressive lobby/ bar area.