194 Shaftesbury Avenue, London
11th May 2014
I haven’t updated the Sumara blog for a while because I have been rather busy. Well it is always busy getting Sumara ready to go back in the water but this year something has made it double busy. Gerry and I seem to have bought Arthur Beale Ltd, a 400 year old yacht chandler based slap bang wallop in the middle of London’s West End. To be honest it was the last thing on our minds as we both had plenty on our plates but when we found out that it was really struggling it was obvious that if we didn’t act quickly the wonderful shop would be lost to all.
Arthur Beale supplied the rope for the early attempts on Everest. They supplied Shackleton too. In fact they were major suppliers of climbing gear such as rucksacks, ice axes and slings. It wasn’t just yachts. The history is quite fantastic. The five floors are littered with old ledgers, printing blocks for ancient catalogues and even stock that must be hundreds of years old.
Of course we sought advise. They all said “No, don’t do it”. We tried to get more people involved but most people felt it was too risky but Gerry and I just thought it needs to be saved and there was a remote chance that we were the people to do it. So the last couple of months have been hectic! The poor shop had been selling off stock but without funds to replenish. It had become rather sad. We have managed to get a lot of the stock replenished and are now opening longer hours. The place is already getting busier but there is a long way to go.
As the timing wasn’t really our choice we haven’t all managed to sit down and work out the master plan but we are all keen to keep the charm of the place and to try to re-establish it as a serious place to visit to buy chandlery. I expect you can imagine the kinds of things I would like to stock!
It is all work in progress but if you are in the West End it would be great to see you. I tend to work in the shop from mid afternoon until 8 pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. If you are around this Saturday after 3 pm we will be celebrating Norway Day with a free glass of Aquavit!