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21 January 2020
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 Book Shops > Atherstone Book Town Opening Delayed

Atherstone Book Town Opening Delayed

The plan was to visit Atherstone a couple of weeks after the Book Town’s official launch on May 14th and although this had been postponed, I was still keen to make the trip to this corner of Warwickshire. We had bought well in both Warwick and Lymington in the past, and I was particularly keen to visit Astley Book Farm, just six miles from Atherstone.

However, it was the launch of another Book Town by the company behind Blaenavon that had originally prompted the trip, and I was keen to see what was happening.

Atherstone looks much the same as countless other market towns up and down the country - pleasant in an unexceptional way. What did surprise me though, particularly on a Tuesday, was how busy it seemed and how few empty shops there were.

‘Jenkins’, established in 1720 according to the shop’s fascia board, is in the process of being renovated, and not before time judging by the state of its exterior. But this is one of just three empty shops in the town’s main street, and the only one in a serious state of disrepair.

According to Jo Wyburn of Book Towns International the company behind the project, this is the principle reason for the delay in the Book Town’s launch. Apparently, announcement of the project prompted property speculation, which reduced the number of properties available to rent. Those that are to let have rents ranging from £140 - £150 per week, advertised in their windows.

Two bookshops in Market Square are said to be close to opening, but currently the only opportunity to buy books in Atherstone is in a lounge of the newly renovated Red Lion Hotel. However, the deep and comfortable chairs make browsing the 600 or so mostly modern secondhand books a pleasure.

Will Atherstone become a successful Book Town? Only time will tell but anyone who opens a bookshop there will need to hit the ground running in order to stand any chance of survival.

Mike Goodenough


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