In the historic North East market town of Alnwick is a second-hand bookshop that is somewhat uniique. For a start, it is stationed in a former railway station! The building has been restored and preserved, so you can see some of the original features- the canopy outside, the tilework and the fireplaces.
As well as the model railway, which runs above, there are three stunning murals. There is the huge “Famous Writers” mural with 33 life-size figures of British writers from 1800 onwards. The Tennyson installation is striking, being made up of flourescent tubes illustrating the opening lines of “Crossing the Bar”. Even the large hanging wrought iron lamp in the centre of the main hall has a mythical railway theme.
The bookshop is based on a swap system and is one of the largest in the country. It has 22 wall shelves, 21 glass cases , 14 columns and 28 book cases! There is a charmimg cafe in the former waiting room featuring the orginal tilework and an open fire. In the former Stationmaster’s Office is the ice cream parlour. The ice cream is made at the local Wheelbirks Farm. Of course, there is also a small gift shop.
One of the most interesting stories relating to Barter Books is that of the “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster. Originally it was produced by the British government in 1939 but was rarely displayed. A copy of the poster was rediscovered within a box of old books, which had geen donated. The owners of the bookshop began to produce and sell copies. Since then various products have been produced globally by other companies and have become very popular.
I could have stayed all day in this bookshop, but unfortunately we had a bus to catch – there being no trains!