AN AUTHOR has spoken of an ambition for a community bookshop to be created in St Helens town centre.

The town centre recently saw the closure of Wardleworth's bookshop on Westfield Street to bring an end to nearly 40 years of trading.

However, Brian Leyland is hoping a new venture can be launched to provide a bookshop for the public.

Early discussions have taken place and Brian is hoping an empty unit in Church Square Shopping Centre or elsewhere in the town centre could be used for the project.

Brian, 65, grew up in Toll Bar and attended St Austin’s and St Teresa’s Primary Schools before he went to West Park Grammar School.

Last year he published book St Helens: The Great & The Good profiling many influential figures who come from the town.

Brian said: "My thinking is if an empty unit could be made available for a community bookshop, with a cafe area for tea and coffee and where children can play and be introduced to children's books and essentially create a bit of a hub there.

"We have a couple of employees who are going to be in the shop but we need someone to operate it. Nobody is yet to come forward. I'm thinking it may be a retired person or it can be a paid role. It just needs somebody who can oversee things really."

St Helens Star:

The closure of Wardleworths caused much sadness in the town

Brian graduated from Manchester University with a degree in Modern History with Economics and went on to become a partner at Price Waterhouse (now PwC) working in Liverpool, Düsseldorf, Manchester and London before his retirement in 2010.

He is also a director of Hometown Plus Limited, a business which helps restore community and commercial prosperity mainly to towns which have been left behind in the post-industrial era.

Brian believes there is a need in the town centre for a bookshop and can help form part of an effort to revive a sense of community.

"It was the closure of Wardleworth's that started the idea," added Brian.

"That was how a lot of local authors did manage to get their books on the shelves.

"Obviously there's been massive changes in St Helens. It had a big industry that provided community. You knew there was a job for you and everybody had a sense of belonging.

"You've got to create that identity some way. With losing the Citadel and the bookshop, if things go one by one and not get replaced it's going to be very difficult.

"Having a bookshop will sell local history books and it just a small part of that bigger jigsaw."

  • Anyone who would be interested in getting involved in the project is asked to contact Brian by emailing