The lack of Stanfords could be a nationwide tragedy
Edward Stanford would have understood the rise of the internet. Although born into a family of garment and draperies in 1827, he sold maps and charts at representative shops at 6 Charing Cross. Victoria was a professional and fast-paced tourist, and the young businessman would go out to sea, traveling merchants, explorers and students.
Later, as the sole proprietor, he expanded the shopping center and maintained a list of plans for British railways and European travelers. The much-respected Grand Tour, by the middle of the 19th century, turned into a very central issue and there was a good market for the Bekersers and the first book to travel. With Chief Cartographer John Bolton, Stanford produced several maps of library books; their partnership was praised by the Royal Geographical Society. In 1893, Edward Stanford II received his royal title as Cartographer for the Queen.
Retail, real estate agents, map makers and printers, became important destinations prior to some of Britain’s most popular exploration routes, including Florence Nightingale, Ernest Shackleton, Captain Scott and Amy Johnson. For decades, Stanfords formed a working relationship with Ordnance Survey, Ministry of Education and, more recently, the Dolman Travel Book Award.
As a travel destination it is a one-time event. I delivered two of my humble books to Stanfords – one for travel advice in South West Wales, and the other for a London census. It was great to be in the midst of all the art and maps, places of learning and excursions, and to feel at home in a compassionate world inhabited by all those who have difficulty walking. I remember a friend of mine writing who was looking forward to the event because, “It’s my favorite bookstore.” Most people go to Stanfords to sign at the shop just like any author or book.