Bookshop reads up on its heritage

First published in Local news

A LONG established book shop in Ilkley town centre has leafed through the pages of its history for a nostalgic celebration of Independent Booksellers' week.

The celebration of independent bookshops across the country takes place this week (June 28 to July 5).

With the full programme of Tour de France events already happening, the Grove Bookshop bookshop, on central shopping street The Grove, decided to do something different, rather than generate additional crowds by hosting signing events with prominent authors.

Instead, staff opted to delve into the shop's history.

With help from local historian, Mike Dixon, and former shop proprietor, Andrew Sharpe, the shop has been able to put together a display of photographs and information looking back at the many years in building's history.

Mr Dixon kindly loaned photographs from his own collection [[pictured]] for the display.

The result of this work is an account of over a century of, independent businesses occupying the premises,

Originally built as a house, Number 10 The Grove went on to become Burgon's Bakers in the 1890s. A whole host in independent businesses set up shop there over the next century, including a cycle sales shop, piano hire, car repairs garage, two different wine and tobacco merchants, and a gentlemen's outfitters during the sharp-dressing 1960s and 1970s.

Ilkley residents Mr and Mrs Townson took over the building to open a bookshop in 1978.

It was later taken over by Andrew Sharpe, who went on to run an antiquarian book business at Bolton Abbey, and present day owner, Kevin Ramage, too over in 2002.

Assistant manager, Mike Sansbury, said: "It's been real fun doing it. and I do think customers will like it. They might have some of their own stories to share."

"We are hoping that the display will inspire customers to share with us their own memories of shopping here over the years."

Some of today's customers remember the shop first opening as a bookshop - and have made regular visits ever since.

As well as the names of the businesses which occupied the shop, records have been found of the traders, and goods sold in store.

When the piano tuning business was there, the shop also sold sheet music - which the Grove Bookshop also does today, in its basement music shop, Grove Music.

The same basement was used as a cellar for keeping barrels of beer during its occupation by one of the beer and wine merchants.

And in the 1980s, the bookshop was deemed the ideal backdrop by car company Vauxhall to promote its new Chevette model.

A picture of the shop, with a Vauxhall Chevette parked in front, appeared in a brochure for the car.

Although much has changed about the shop over the years, including both the frontage and interior, some older features remain. Among these are the mosaic in the doorway of the shop, created by one of the previous businesses to occupy it, and a carved panel depicting tobacco leaves, made when the shop was used by a tobacconist.

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