The Story of Savoy

 Anderton Part II (1981—1982)—S a v o y   W a r s

One of the lucky—or unlucky (depending on viewpoint)—stars presiding over our birth in 1976, was James Anderton, who took over as Chief Constable of the Greater Manchester Police in the same year. In the succeeding years he and his men, and the Manchester press, courts and judiciary, were constant authoritarian admonishers of our work, locked in a seeming conspiracy against us. Byron Rogers, in his 1993 Sunday Telegraph article about Savoy saw the (then) fifteen-year feud The Police vs Savoy as between "...Butterworth and Britton, whose clocks stopped in the 1890s", whose mentors, with the exception of Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley are "...men few of us have heard of...", and "...a Chief Constable who, in his later years looked and sounded like an Old Testament prophet".

Our offices and retail outlets suffered about 50 or 60 raids, resulting in the seizure of hundreds of thousands of pounds-worth of retail stock. Anderton's men sometimes entered our premises Eliot Ness-style, smashing walls and shop fittings with sledgehammers. They could never find what they thought they were looking for but the disruption they caused prevented us from operating a viable publication schedule.

In 1981, police harassment and the collapse of our distributors, New English Library, forced us to put Savoy Books Ltd into liquidation. To keep the Savoy name going we became book packagers—originating titles under contract to other publishers (including NEL, who reformed under the Hodder & Stoughton flag). As Savoy Editions Ltd we moved to new offices at 91 Oldham Street, above Starplace, a Savoy bookshop in what is now Manchester's much-heralded trendy Northern Quarter, then a windy street of post-Arndale semi-derelict charity shops and 50p bazaars.

The period '1981-1982' includes all Savoy-packaged titles as well as the 'Titles That Got Away'—those like the Gerald Scarfe or Brion Gysin books we helped commission and assemble but which we lost to other publishers. >>>

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