Where new writing finds its voice
My Favourite Bookshop

Wapping Project Bookshop

Anna Goodall


The Wapping Project Bookshop is probably one of the smallest bookshops you’re ever likely to visit, and certainly the most unusual. It is set in the grounds of the Wapping Project, an arts centre housed in the old Wapping Hydraulic Power Station – a grand Victorian red brick station built in 1890 – that has been converted into a trendy and interesting art space. So although it looks pleasingly run-down from the outside, inside the space there is a lovely modern restaurant and art gallery set in the turbine hall of the power station and arranged around its now-defunct but aesthetically pleasing machinery.

Amidst the tumbledown grounds that surround the station, half-hidden by foliage, is the bookshop, which is in fact a small, narrow greenhouse.

Its walls are lined with wire-mesh bookcases displaying a carefully chosen selection of limited edition art & design, architecture, and cookery books as well as some literary and contemporary fashion and art magazines. This unusual building choice means you can see all the book spines and covers from outside the shop, making it like an interesting design object/gallery space in itself.

Writer and journalist Lydia Fulton currently runs the shop, sitting at a desk at the far end of the greenhouse, in winter huddling beside an old--fashioned stove, in summer throwing the door open to let the air in, and always looking gorgeous with her flame-red hair and amazing sense of style.

The shop’s location also adds to a visit to the bookshop. There is something appealing and mysterious about the Docklands area of London, and Wapping has a long maritime history; now it’s an intriguing mix of fashionable and expensive warehouse flats and new-builds for the City workers, odd cobbled streets, factories, garages, deserted buildings and lock-ups.

Having been to the bookshop a must-visit afterwards is The Prospect of Whitby just across the road. Founded in 1520 it is one of the oldest riverside taverns and was famously a hangout in the eighteenth-century for smugglers and ne’er do wells. It also serves a good pint, and you can see Canary Wharf and the pollution-hazed financial district from its serene Thames-side balcony.

What’s also extraordinary about the bookshop is that despite its size and location – Wapping is not that handy to get to for the usual literary crowd – it’s got an impressive and hugely popular calendar of events. These take place inside the bookshop so there is very limited availability for places, but if you’re lucky enough to get in you have access to intimate and memorable readings from some big names.

Previous readers/speakers include: Edna O’Brien, Billy Childish, Iain Sinclair, Jeanette Winterson, Daisy de Villeneuve, George Szirtes, Helen Oyeyemi, Ally Capellino, and Mike Figgis. Quite a diverse and impressive list, I think you’ll agree. This little bookshop gives you a picturesque and very unusual book-buying experience that is well worth the trip.


Wapping Project Bookshop
Wapping Hydraulic Power Station,
Wapping Wall, London E1W 3ST



If you have a bookshop you’d like to recommend to Pen Pusher readers, then we’d like to hear about it – submit suggestions of up to 500 words here