Southport mourns the loss of Laurie Hardman, cherished owner of historic Broadhursts Bookshop

The North West's oldest bookshop has lost its beloved owner, Laurie Hardman, who "touched the lives of book-lovers in Southport and far beyond".

Laurie began his journey at Broadhursts Bookshop in 1969. The shop is a local gem, operating from the same building since 1920 when it was opened by Charles Broadhurst after his return from World War One.

In 1987, following Charles' death, Laurie took ownership of the cherished establishment, the ECHO reports. Broadhursts Bookshop announced Laurie's passing on Twitter/X, paying tribute to "our proprietor, boss, and friend" who was the "heart and soul of Broadhursts for many years, and will be much missed in the months and years to come".

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The post read: "Many a child passing through our doors gazed up in amazement at his 6'7" height (as did a fair few adults!) - and his dexterity in wrapping a brown paper parcel to perfection never failed to draw admiring glances from those who love brown paper packages tied up with string.

"The times when favourite authors and even celebrities passing through the doors, for book signings or just as customers, were always exciting - never more so than when we hosted the wonderful Sir Terry Pratchett for a signing in 2008 (an author much loved by Laurie)."

"For us booksellers, he was a boss who was always entertaining, often generous, and taught us so much about the world of bookselling. He was a man who loved books to his very core, and both recognised and valued that in others (even when you loved books or authors he disliked!)"

"Broadhursts will never be quite the same without Laurie, and we will miss him very much. But we will continue on his literary legacy in the bookshop as best we can - there may be new faces sitting in his chair, but the bookselling spirit he taught us will go on. RIP Laurie."

In a 2022 interview with the ECHO, Laurie fondly described the unique charm of the bookstore, stating: "It's a unique experience coming into the place. It's not just any old bookshop, and that is increasingly what people are looking for.

"You can't go anywhere else and find a shop like this. We have customers who came in as children by their parents and they have brought their children in and they have brought their children in so we get generations coming in who remember the building.

"So we have a continuity that customers enjoy. A place like this must build up over time but it has to grow organically."

He added: "The world changes very quickly these days. Ferris Bueller said 'life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

Past and present customers were saddened to hear about Laurie's death. Writing on Twitter/X, one said: "Devastated to hear this - I only pop in every couple of months as I now live down south, I have known and corresponded with Laurie for over 40 years and we always had a lovely catch up. I was one of those children who grew to know him as a good friend. Sending love to all.""

Another said: "I'm so very sorry to hear this sad news. I have known this wonderful bookshop for many decades and hope it will remain the same for many more to come. Deepest sympathy and condolences to all who loved him."

Another added: "That's incredibly sad to hear, my sincerest condolences to you all, it was always a great pleasure chatting with Laurie, a gentleman bookseller, he'll be greatly missed."