The Record Deck moored in its usual location. Photograph: Luke Guilford
The Record Deck moored in its usual location. Photograph: Luke Guilford

The banks of the River Lea used to be a place where recovering vinyl junkies could feel safe from relapse, but that is no longer the case.

For taking a stroll down the canal towpath on any sunny weekend, you may well come across Luke Guilford and his floating record shop, The Record Deck.

The former librarian uses his barge as a de facto stock room, keeping everything from ‘the classics’ to jazz, blues and reggae – which can sometimes prove problematic for some.

“People like stumbling upon it, but some get a bit upset they found it because they were trying to not buy any records,” says Guilford.

“But I’ve found that record addicts will always find them wherever they are. I am one myself.”

Thumbing through the racks of reasonably priced records (usually priced between £5 and £10) stored underneath his bed and around his boat, he takes out a sample of his stock.

The Black Keys, Tom Waits and David Bowie sit neatly beside Django Reindhart, The Incredible String Band and an African jazz compilation.

Given the diverse nature of his clientele, trying to organise the front of the shop, which he hangs from the side of the boat, has become something of an art form.

“One day I decided to put a load of really trendy records out, then the first things I sold were The Shadows and Dire Straits. You can’t predict who is going to come along,” he says.

Guilford started the shop as an exit strategy from the rat race. With the pressures of his 9 to 5 job growing, he decided to put his life-long love of vinyl and his modest dwelling together to join the growing ranks of Hackney’s riverboat traders.

Currently moored alongside Springfield Park, The Record Deck can count a floating bookshop, a bar and even a hairdresser’s amongst its neighbours.

The Record Deck is based in Hackney on most weekends, but using the grass bank as his shop floor means opening hours are rather dependent on the weather.

However, Guildford keeps a box of records in the basement of Pages of Hackney on Lower Clapton Road for rainy days, and informs his Twitter followers of his location.

One of the advantages of the transient nature of the shop premises is that Guilford has become a regular feature at canal festivals around the country. This year he will be floating downstream to Field Day in Victoria Park and the Angel Canal festival in Islington.

Having lived on a barge for 16 years, Guilford’s love for life on the water has extinguished any desire to expand his enterprise or turn to the murky waters of online selling.

“A lot of people sell on the internet but to me that just sounds really boring,” he says. “But I don’t have any major plans for expansion apart from buying a load of nice records and passing them on to people.”

Follow @therecorddeckuk to keep updated on the shop’s location.

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