Neighbouring Granary Square, you will find one of Kings Crosses hidden gems and one of Londons only floating bookshop! We first stumbled across Word on the Water, when we opened our Coal Drops Yard store in 2018.
The unusual looking boat, is bursting with character, hosting a collection of new and used books, from classics, cult, contemporary fiction, a large range of children's books as well as art and photography.
Not only do they sell books, but they also entertain many events such as poetry slams, readings, book launches and live acoustic music from the boats roof terrace.
Founded by Paddy Screech, Jonathan Privett, and Stephane Chaudat nearly a decade ago, the 1920's barge-converted book store did not have a plain sailing start. Initially beginning life by Paddington Station, it lost its application for a permanent mooring by developers and Word on the Water were then forced to alternate locations every two weeks due to canal regulations.
But after a huge battle to save the business from closure, (involving a petition signed by more than 6,000 people) and after squatting in the same location for 6 months, the canal trust relented and agreed to give Word on the Water it's permanent mooring by Granary Square, which is where it's been based ever since. And we're glad too! As it really is a beloved feature to Kings Cross!
We asked co-owner, Jonathan a few questions about life on the boat.
Tell us the story of how Word on the Water began?
Word on the Water began when Paddy Screech and I returned to our boats after working at Word on the Street (Our market stall) and realised that we didn't want to leave the canal even for work.
How has business and boat life been during lockdown?
Lockdown was hard for us because we expected to remain open as an essential service but were forced to close to save lives even while missile and torture equipment factories continued to operate as normal.
Jonathan Privett and his dog Star at Word on the Water.
What's the most challenging thing about living and working on a boat?
The most challenging thing about living and working on a boat (other than dealing with the Canal and Rivers Trust) has been running a business without a fixed address and without running water or mains power.
Is there a book you've sold in the past that you have been sad to let go? If so what?
I wish I could have kept every book we have sold, usually they can be replaced with identical copies but we once had an 1805 edition of Paradise Lost which was beautiful and irreplaceable. The delight we gave the customer went some way to compensate for parting with the precious volume.
What's the best thing about living in the Kings Cross neighbourhood?
The best thing about living and working in the King's Cross neighbourhood is everything! I really love it. There's a real sense of excitement and community in being part of the regeneration and cultural enlivenment of this previously depressed area.
To find out more about Word On The Water, books available online and up coming events visit their website here.