Famous bookshop's bid to open ice-cream parlour

The former antiques shop in which Barter Books wants to open an ice-cream parlour.
The former antiques shop in which Barter Books wants to open an ice-cream parlour.

Plans have been unveiled to open an ice-cream parlour at Alnwick’s famous second-hand bookshop.

Barter Books is seeking to expand into another section of the former Alnwick Station building it occupies and has submitted a planning application to Northumberland County Council seeking a change of use from a former antiques shop to an ice-cream parlour.

Having been opened by Mary and Stuart Manley in 1991, the visitor destination then opened its own catering operation, The Station Buffet, in 2009 by expanding into the former waiting rooms as well as a porter’s and boiler room.

Starting with two staff, it now employs 24 and is frequently working at full capacity at lunchtimes and weekends when more than 70 customers are simultaneously using the facilities. ‘Indeed, customers usually have to wait for a vacant table at these times,’ the application notes.

In November last year, the antiques shop in the former station-master’s office and lamp room closed and Barter Books took up the lease last month.

The proposed ice-cream parlour would be operated and staffed as part of The Station Buffet and would also sell hot drinks and cakes from the in-house bakery.

It’s anticipated this will result in four extra members of staff once fully operational, while seating for 16 customers is proposed in the former lamp room.

A heritage statement explains that this ‘would relieve pressure by providing an additional seating place for customers who only want to consume ice cream or coffee/other drinks rather than the fuller meals that can be provided in The Station Buffet’, while also reincorporating the rooms back into the principal use of the building.

It is proposed to make no physical alterations to the two rooms, with the existing cupboards that are cited in the conservation listing (the building is grade II-listed) being used for storage.

‘The catering equipment and seating to be used will be portable/demountable and will not compromise any original features,’ the statement adds.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service