Barter Books
Building Alnwick Northumberland

Barter Books

Building In Alnwick, Northumberland

Famous book shop in the old Alnwick train station.

If like me, you love a bookshop, enjoy looking at old leather-bound books and have an admiration for the Dewey Decimal System, Barter Books in Alnwick is a must.

One of the largest second hand bookshops in Britain, it is also the place where the 'Keep Calm and Carry On' poster was born and it attracts 350,000 visitors every year.

So how did the 'Keep Calm' phenomenon start?

In Spring 1939, the British government issued three propaganda posters, which used a special, uniform typeface the enemy could not counterfeit. It also had a picture of the crown of King George VI on it's design. Two of the posters were sent around the country to be displayed, however 'Keep Calm and Carry On' was only intended to be used in times of crisis and invasion and was never officially issued. The famous poster was found fifty years later at Barter Books by the current owners in a box of second hand books. The owners liked the poster so much, they copied it, framed it and displayed it near their counter, and so the story began.

The bookshop itself began life as a railway station in 1887 and was designed by chief architect of North Eastern Railway, William Bell. It was a grand station for a small market town, but this was deemed necessary to impress visiting royalty. It remained in use until 1968 during the controversial 'Beeching Axe', when Dr Richard Beeching closed a third of the UKs railway network.

The station was bought by Stuart and Mary Manley in 1991. It was Mary's idea to open a bookshop based on the swap system, where customers can exchange books for credit against future purchases.

The bookshop is really charming. There are lots of nooks and crannies where you can sit and read, or admire the architecture and original features of the station. I also enjoy looking at the rare books which are locked away in glass cabinets, ranging from around £20 up to several thousand pounds. Maybe when I win the lottery.

There are also a number of art installations around the bookshop, including the Tennyson installation, which is a culmination of all the poetry written on white boards adjoining the bookshelves. It was commissioned in 2006 and created by artist Colin Rose, who has work at Cheeseburn and on Newcastle Gateshead Quayside.

Barter Books is just a lovely place to visit and sells great cakes in the Station Buffet - I recommend the Earl Grey fruit cake! I always buy at least one book too, even though my 'to be read' pile is huge. Happily, it's currently open from 9am-7pm every day too, so there is plenty of time to mooch.

If you want to find out more about Barter Books, and have a peruse of their catalogue, visit their website: Barter Books.

  Add To Bucket List   I Have Visited This Place

Get 3 points if you have visited this place. Already visited by 211 VIPs.

Login to the VIP area to add places to your bucket list, mark them as visited and more importantly see where you rank on the league table.

How To Find Barter Books

Where Is Barter Books?

Show Place On Google Maps

Lat / Long

55.410131, -1.69895

What three words


Where To Park For Barter Books?

Show Parking On Google Maps

Lat / Long

55.410104, 55.410104

What three words

Free parking is available outside the book shop.

Contributed by Sandra Clemens

I love the great outdoors and have been a National Trust & English Heritage member for years. I also love going off the beaten track and finding places like Sharp's Folly or Rothley Castle which are hidden gems in Northumberland. My favourite recent hike was climbing Red Screes in the Lake District on a whim, not fully grasping how high 776m was. It was still an achievement to conquer a Wainwright walk and I hope to do more one day.

More Places from Sandra
Sandra Clemens

More Places In Alnwick

Find more fabulous places in Alnwick, Northumberland and if you know of a place we haven't listed, then let us know.

Malcolm III Cross
Malcolm III Cross
Statue Alnwick Northumberland

A stone cross marking where Malcolm III, King Of Scotland was slain at the Battle Of Alnwick.

RRH Brizlee Wood Radome Golf Ball
RRH Brizlee Wood Radome Golf Ball
Military Alnwick Northumberland

A radome housing an RAF radar at Brizlee Wood sitting on top of Alnwick Moor.

Pottergate Tower
Pottergate Tower
Tower Alnwick Northumberland

Originally part of the town's medieval defences, this tower is now a luxury holiday cottage.

More Buildings

So this building wasn't enough and you want more? Don't worry we have you covered.

The Mining Institute
The Mining Institute
Building Newcastle City Centre Tyne And Wear

The North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers or as it is more commonly known, “The Mining Institute” is one of the finest buildings in Newcastle. It is a Victorian building built at the time when high-Gothic architecture was coming into fashion.

Freya's Cabin
Freya's Cabin
Building Kielder Northumberland

A timber cabin set on the banks of Kielder Water mirrored on the opposite bank by another, more simple hut.

Blawearie Shepherd’s Hut
Blawearie Shepherd’s Hut
Building Chillingham Northumberland

A ruined shepherd's hut in the moors near Old Bewick set amongst crags and cairns.

Never Miss A Fabulous Place

If you are afraid of missing out on all the fabulous places we post, or just want to be the first to know, then sign up to the Fabulous North.

Each week we will email you all the brand new places that we visit.

Sign Up To Alerts
Sign up to newsletter
Fabulous North On Facebook

Find Us On Facebook

We post all our new places daily on our Facebook Groups page, so join the group today and be notified when we add a new place.

Join Our Facebook Group

Barter Books was listed in Building // Northumberland // Alnwick