Century-old bookshop to close

Appleby's Bookshop at Morpeth-closing down.'REF 2409142859
Appleby's Bookshop at Morpeth-closing down.'REF 2409142859

A book store dating back more than 100 years is set to shut up shop for good.

Appleby’s Bookshop has been trading in Newgate Street, Morpeth, since 1886 and has been in the hands of the Wallace family for 34 years.

But now it has been announced that the business is to close and the premises have been put up for sale or to let.

Owners Tim and Alice Wallace previously planned to close the shop two years ago, but following a massive show of public support they decided to give it another chance, putting major investment into a new cafe and refurbishment.

However, after an initial boost in trade after the re-launch, it has fallen back to previous levels and the couple have decided that they cannot carry on.

Mrs Wallace said: “It is very sad, but we are not getting enough footfall to keep the shop going.

“After giving the shop a facelift and putting the coffee shop in, the business did pick up, but it has gone back to the way it was and we really don’t know what else we can do. We have tried everything.”

The shop owner urged more support for Newgate Street in general, saying many shops in the area are going through a difficult time.

“I think Newgate Street has been neglected and it is not only Appleby’s that is struggling,” she said;

“We have seen countless shops open and close in the street.

“People should do something about Newgate Street for the future of the other shops and businesses who are still trading.”

The shop had about 50,000 books on two floors, including specialist areas such as military, photography and crafts, and it also sold antique maps and cards.

Mrs Wallace said some customers have been moved to tears at the thought of the loss of the readers’ treasure trove.

“We have been here a long time so we will miss the shop, and we have had customers crying when we have told them we’re closing. They can’t believe it,” she said.

“We want to say a big thank you to all of the people who have supported the shop in the time we have been here. We have had a great time working in Appleby’s and we have made a lot of friends. Most of the customers are our friends. It has been a very nice place for socialising and there has always been a lovely atmosphere.”

Mr and Mrs Wallace, who took over the business from Tim’s parents Bill and Ann, have also thanked staff for their dedication.

“It has been a family business for a long time and we have always had long-term staff working for us. They have been like family to us so it is sad that it has come to this. Aileen Davis has been a team-leader for the shop and we really appreciate her services. We wish everybody all the best in the future.”

There is no closing date for the shop, and it is hoped that it can stay open until Christmas.

All stock is now half-price in a closing down sale so customers are urged to pop along to browse for possible Christmas presents.