Last chapter for one of town’s landmark stores

William and Alice Wallace at Appleby's Book Shop in Morpeth.
William and Alice Wallace at Appleby's Book Shop in Morpeth.

A POPULAR Morpeth shop which has provided a treasure trove of books for more than 100 years is closing its doors.

A range of factors have contributed to the owners of Appleby’s Bookshop deciding to call it a day and a final sale has begun to clear its extensive stock.

The business has traded in Newgate Street since 1884 and a large customer base has been built up thanks to its reputation as one of Northumberland’s leading independent book stores.

Appleby’s was bought by the Wallace family from previous owner Alfred Appleby 30 years ago and its success continued.

But a major fall in sales over the last two years has left them struggling to pay for their overheads and they have now admitted defeat.

Alice Wallace, who has been running the shop with husband Tim, said: “It was a very difficult decision to make, but we felt we had no choice.

“Many of our customers were unhappy with having to pay for parking charges, particularly Morpeth residents, and they could go to nearby towns to park for free. The major roadworks have made things even worse in the last few weeks.

“When the Sanderson Arcade shopping centre came to Morpeth it was like Newgate Street was forgotten and it took a long time for something to be done to inform people who didn’t know much about the town that there are a range of independent shops in the street.

“We have also suffered from supermarkets and other big stores starting to sell books and technology like the Kindle.

“I feel deeply for the staff, all of whom have been here for at least eight years, as they have become part of the family and it is tough to find a job at the moment.

“We are very grateful to all our loyal customers over the years, particularly the regulars who have become friends of ours.

“Many of them have said they are really gutted that we are closing as they could rely on us to find the book they were looking for if we didn’t already have it.”

The shop had about 50,000 books on two floors, including in specialist areas such as military, photography and crafts, which it is now selling at a discount over the next two months.

Antique maps and cards are among the other items also available.

A key feature was its 24-hour ordering service to give customers what they wanted in quick time.

Shop Assistant Aileen Davis said: “It’s sad that such an iconic shop is closing.

“t has been a great place to work for the last nine years and there was a loyal customer base who we got to know very well.

“Tim built up a number of contacts over the years and this meant that he was always able to find the book someone was looking for, even if it was an unusual request.”

Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade Chairman John Beynon is disappointed to see the well-known store close.

“It is a great shame because it is a landmark business in the town,” he said.

“It is an historic business and people have come into Morpeth specifically to go there for years.

“It is very sad that this has happened.”