Bookshop owner dies, after decades delighting Richmond's avid readers

This Is Local London: Book lover: John Prescott Book lover: John Prescott

A much-loved bookshop owner, who had shops in the borough for most of his life, has died.

John Prescott, who opened the Richmond Bookshop in June 1965, was a lover of books, art and music.

He died aged 88 on April 25 at St George’s Hospital after a fall on Easter Monday.

The book-lover opened up shop in Paradise Road, until he moved his business to the parade next to the police station in Red Lion Street.

Together with his business partner Romy Rey, he opened the Hampstead Book Cellar in 1966.

In 1975, they decided to close the shop in Hampstead and work together in the shop in Richmond.

For the next two decades, they had the Richmond Bookshop, which specialised in modern second-hand books, mainly in the arts and humanities.

The three aisles in the shop were filled from floor to ceiling with books, and customers were forever climbing up and down the ladders to get to the top or crouching on their knees to read the spines on the bottom shelf.

Open on Fridays and Saturdays only, it was also a social meeting-point in Richmond.

The periodic sales, for which he himself leafleted the centre of Richmond, were legendary.

Mr Prescott, who lived in Petersham Road, decided to retire in 1997, but then re-opened another bookshop in York Street, Twickenham.

In spring 1998, Labour had just got into power, and as he happened to share the name of the then deputy prime minister, he called the shop John Prescott – The Bookseller.

He sent a bookshop flyer to his namesake, who was rumoured to have binned it with a frown.

His wife, Ariadne who married him in 2000, said: “Above all, John was a bookseller. Buying and selling books is what he loved doing.

“People liked him for his enthusiasms, his devil-may-care attitude to life, and above all his enormous generosity of spirit.”

His funeral on will be held on Tuesday, May 13, at 1.20pm at Mortlake Crematorium, Kew Meadow Path. Everyone is welcome but the family has asked for no flowers.

For enquiries, contact T H Sanders and Sons, on 020 8948 1551.

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