Dreadnought Books is run by myself, John Sidwell. After graduating from university I decided to follow in my father’s footsteps and enter the second-hand book trade in 2010. Under his tutelage I began to build an online presence and acquaint myself with the intricacies of bookselling.

Initially Dreadnought was based near Abergavenny in South Wales, wherein local flea markets provided a useful supplement to online sales. At this time I also made use of the opportunity to sell books on commission for clients as a means of generating income with little outlay.

In the summer of 2013, following several years of steady growth, the search began for new premises. I was uncertain at this point as to exactly what form they would take, desiring a shop, but uncertain as to its financial viability. I was most fortunate to agree terms on a lease for a suitable premises, and by mid-November, after six weeks of hard toil, Dreadnought opened its doors.

My desire to enter the second-hand book trade was driven by a fascination with history. The appeal of books in this regard is not limited to the knowledge contained within, but extends to the book itself, the hands it has passed through, the shelves it has adorned. Rummaging around in the most unlikely of places in search of an overlooked gem quickly became my favourite aspect of the job.

It seemed sensible to specialise in history as I had studied it and therefore felt more confident in identifying what may have value or be of interest. It also became quickly apparent to me how much I preferred handling and processing books that interested me, if I could allow myself to part with them. As such my stock began to encompass other areas of my own personal interest, particularly politics and sociology. With experience I broadened my inventory to include literature and the arts, and other subjects beyond my initial comfort zone. As such the shop has on offer a fairly comprehensive array of titles, whilst history still predominates. Maritime and naval history, reflecting both the name and our proximity to the harbour, and social and radical history and politics, reflecting my own socialist leanings, have particular preponderance.

I also buy books, particularly in my specialist areas. Please get in touch if you think you may have something of interest.

Since the shop opened its doors I have been delighted with the reception it has received. At a time when the book trade seems besieged from all angles it is reassuring to know there are plenty of people out there still fascinated by books and keen to support a fledgling venture in this market.

Whether you are a resident in Bristol, or just passing through, pay us a visit. Nearby on street parking is available and 10% discounts offered to students, pensioners and the unwaged.

My father continues to operate within the trade, further information about Monmouth House Books can be found here.

In The Press

Feature on Bristol #PROSPECTUS ‘Bristol Independent Trader Interview: Dreadnought Books (October 2014)’

Dreadnought Books, based on St George’s Road, is an independent second hand bookshop specialising in historical and maritime texts. We asked it’s proprietor, John Sidwell five questions about owning and running an independent business in […]

Continue reading on Bristol #PROSPECTUS’ website.

Feature in The Guardian’s ‘Top 10 independent shops in Bristol (March 2014)’

Small but chock-full, Dreadnought is a secondhand bookstore run by a communist bibliophile with a strong sense of community. Owner John Sidwell specialises in military and social history (of which there’s a healthy selection), but he’s keen that any casual browser might find something to suit.

Read more on the Guardian’s website.

‘Books At Battle Stations’ – Bristol Post Feature (February 2014)

Dreadnought Books Bristol Post Feature February 2014

Dreadnought Books Bristol Post Feature February 2014

Buoyed by the support and goodwill of Bristolians, John Sidwell is determined to roll up his sleeves and make a go of his second-hand book store, Dreadnought. The 25-year-old from Wales opened the Hotwells bookshop, which specialises in history, just before Christmas and has the energy, enthusiasm and knowledge to make it a success.

Read more



Dreadnought BooksDreadnought Books