Barter Books


I thought it was time I shared a little place of wonder I recently discovered. My wife I recently went and spent the weekend in the rather wonderful Bamburgh down on the Northumbrian coast.

Whilst there we drove to nearby Alnwick. Now Alnwick is most famously know for it’s rather wonderful castle. But we’d been there recently and having just come from Bamburgh were all castled out. So we just went for a look around Alnwick town. There’s not much there. Some cafes, roadworks, that’s about it.

Or so we thought.

By sheer chance, just as we were leaving we spotted a wrought iron gate displaying the words BARTER BOOKS. Let’s go check that out then, we decided. This is what we found.

Barter Books was once a train station and a fair sized one at that. Today it is one of Britain’s biggest second hand bookshops. I mean the place is MASSIVE. The front area is divided into great pillars of bookshelves, over the top of which a series of model railways chugged away. Beyond this lay the main bulk of the shop, what had probably been the engine shed – a massive, curved hall which just looks those unbelievable libraries you see in movies. Row after row of tightly squeezed bookcases, towering above the crowds of people milling around inside. There was a cafe, various little nooks and seats, an old (yet functioning) drinking fountain a map to get around.

The place was just incredible and my wife and I managed to lose each for in there for quite some time. Oddly I didn’t actually purchase anything, I think I was just blinded by choice. So many well collated and maintained collections. If you’re ever in that neck of the woods I strongly recommend popping by!

Title image courtesy gruenemann3

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Published in: on March 16, 2011 at 8:31 PM  Comments (8)  
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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Great find, David. There is nothing better than discovering a new bookstore. I’ve yet to stumble upon one in an abandoned train station, but I’m young yet. There’s still time.

  2. I want to go there and get lost!

  3. *Licking lips in delight*

    Great post, David. Being a book junkie, this place is dangerous for an inquiring mind like me!

    Found your blog from T.S. Bazelli…keep up the great work!

    • Hey thanks for stopping by! Was definitely a dangerous place – both in terms of potentially getting lost and for spending large amounts of money (quite a few rare editions locked away behind glass).

  4. Wow! How intriguing…a train station gone bookstore. Someone was a genius.

    • Really was a very special place. I wonder what other cool places could be converted into bookshops? Surely someone somewhere must have done an old church by now?

  5. Oh my, that looks almost like my idea of heaven. I think I could happily spend hours there (and lots of money hehe).

    • I got the feeling as I wandered around, that were indeed quite a lot of regulars!


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