New ice cream parlour brings a taste of Paradise to Barter Books in Alnwick

It may be mid-winter but Barter Books has decided the time is right to launch a new ice cream parlour.

Thursday, 9th January 2020, 4:45 pm
Updated Friday, 10th January 2020, 5:57 pm
The new ice cream parlour, far right, at Barter Books.
The new ice cream parlour, far right, at Barter Books.

Paradise @barterbooksuk has opened in a vacant part of Alnwick’s former railway station, now home to one of the largest second-hand bookstores in Europe.

“There can’t be many businesses in the UK which would open an ice cream parlour in January,” joked Mary Manley, who runs the business with her husband Stuart.

The opportunity came about when an antiques shop in a small corner of the premises closed.

Paradise @barterbooksuk

“We were asked if we wanted to rent it so we went away and had a think about what might work,” explained Mary.

“We hadn’t had any plans to expand at that point because we’re as big as we want to be.

“We didn’t want to expand the book side of the business and also have the Station Buffet already but it was an opportunity we didn’t want to miss out on so we came up with the idea of ice cream.”

Extensive taste tests were undertaken to decide which ice cream to stock.

Barter Books, Alnwick

They eventually plumped for Stocksfield-based Wheelbirks, home to the oldest pedigree Jersey herd in Northumberland.

“They are known for producing a very creamy, milky ice cream and we thought it was just really good so we went for that,” said Mary. “There were others that were also really nice but we liked that one best.”

The parlour, on the right hand side of the facade when approaching the main entrance, consists of a serving area and sitting room.

They are also selling coffee, tea, soft drinks and cakes from it.

“It’s very small but we like to think it’s good,” said Mary. “We look forward to people coming to give it a try, especially when the weather gets a bit warmer!”

Barter Books opened in 1991 and attracts some 350,000 visitors a year.

It was in use as a railway station until the closure of the Alnwick branch line in 1968.