During the summer we visited Diana Cook, the indefatigable lady who owns the Richard Way Books in Henley on Thames, known worldwide as the
Oarsman’s book shop.
We got into rowing books by accident – In 1977 there was an auction of the contents from Jack Beresford’s house and we got a box full of rowing almanacs. They were pretty cheap and I was astonished when I sold some of them very well. Unsurprisingly the “rowing old guard” got very grumpy that this collection had been bought by a commercial company – but this gave me the clue that I was onto something.
We keep a copy of every rowing book that we’ve ever had in stock and so we now have a really good library of out of print books. It’s a big collection.
It is now a struggle to get old rowing books. We try hard and we meet wonderful people who we help to get the editions they want for their collections. They are collector and we support them.
I would like to do a catalogue of rowing books. I’d correspond with Tom Mendenhall, who I call the Father of US Rowing. He would sit in the bookshop here during Henley Royal Regatta and people would come to talk to him.
It’s the personalities who come into the shop that I love.
Diana was the inspiration behind the publication of the Complete Steve Fairbairn – Volume 1 is published and the other three are coming soon.