Eric Morten (1929–2010) was an antiquarian bookseller, philanthropist, and champion of the young. Eric died a prosperous and respected antiquarian bookseller, but he started his career selling books on his father’s stall at the market on Shudehill, next to Manchester Cathedral. Independence was a single box of second hand books; a harsh reality he never forgot. His spirit lives on in a new annual award given by The Blackden Trust.
The Blackden Trust cares for a parcel of land that has been occupied for over ten thousand years and promotes the engagement of people of all ages with their heritage, through its study and care of the 16th century Old Medicine House, and through research into the surrounding area.
The award is for the student who has gained most from the Trust’s activities, and has contributed significantly to its future. It consists of two books that relate to the student’s interests: one modern, the other a seminal antiquarian book.
Jenny Reddish, from Oldham is the inaugural winner. Jenny is in her second year studying Archaeology and Anthropology at Magdalen College, and as a sixth-former Jenny visited the Blackden Trust on ten occasions, attending courses and volunteering at events, which she continues to do during university vacations. Jenny says:
I keep coming back to Blackden because it allows me to immerse myself in experiences I couldn’t get anywhere else. The atmosphere is one not of passive intake of information, but of collective discovery – ideas spark others, and the overall sense is that you are contributing in some small way to the body of human understanding. The place is unique too, having been occupied since not long after the last Ice Age. It has a definite resonance that contributes to the experience of the courses. At Blackden, one cannot help but be inspired.
Jenny’s commitment to passing on her enjoyment and the excitement of discovery alongside academic experts, which is an integral part of the activities at Blackden, reflects Eric Morten’s delight in helping young people. He took great pleasure in finding books that his clients and friends wanted, and was especially kind to students, in some cases giving them the books they needed to gain their professional qualifications. The Blackden Trust is proud to extend his legacy through the award that bears his name.