Bookshop adds new chapter to story of Trinity House revival
- Credit: Barrie Hedges
The resurrection of Axminster’s Trinity House has hit a new landmark as the massively restored building welcomes the Archway Bookshop as its fourth tenant.
And with Christmas approaching, even Santa will be taking up residence deep down in the cellars!
The bookshop’s move from Church Street to Trinity Square has been slightly delayed by an acute national shortage of glass but, with its spacious windows now installed, the business opened its new doors on Thursday (11 November). Meanwhile, the busy build team from Axminster Property will turn its attention to the cellars where a grotto will be taking shape.
The idea of ‘Santa at Trinity’ comes (together with sponsorship) from the company’s Managing Director, Ian Styles. “I very much want the community in my home town to enjoy the full spirit of Christmas this year, and there is no better way than to create bit of magic for children,” he says.
The event is being supported by Totally Locally Axminster and by the Community Waffle House, which is where the children’s journey to the grotto will start. A lift ride will take them down into the depths of the Trinity House cellars, with a ‘secret’ path lit by twinkling lights taking them on to meet Santa. Tickets for the event sold out within hours of going on sale.
With the Lou La Belle boutique, The Crafty Hobbit and The Community Waffle House already in place in Trinity House, the arrival of the Archway Bookshop completes a dramatic turnaround in fortunes for a building that was abandoned as an unprofitable department store two years ago. “It didn’t really fit into our property portfolio at that time but to see it empty was very painful,“ says Ian Styles. “I’m really glad now with the way in which we have been able to bring it back to its old glory, and to have local independent businesses living there is an absolute pleasure.”
He added: “What has been really satisfying has been to work with each of the individual businesses and to take what in each case was the germ of an idea and to build it with them.”
The Archway Bookshop started in nearby Church Street 55 years ago. Current owner Simon Holmes took over the business at the beginning of 2019. He admits to feeling “rather sad” about leaving such beautiful old premises. “It is the epitome of what an independent bookshop should be,” he says. “However, the reality is that it no longer has the space that we need and doesn’t allow us to expand as we would like. It is also inaccessible in that the great majority of our non-fiction department lives at the top of a spiral staircase.
“Trinity House has more than 200 years of history of its own, but it also offers us a lot more space and we have been delighted by the work Axminster Property has done in creating something rather special for book lovers. We have every confidence that it will become one of the most popular bookshops in the South West and indeed beyond.”
Simon will be supported at the new shop by experienced staff members Tim Pritchard, Rachel Tattersell and Liz Stonex. “Its one of those dream jobs working in a bookshop ,” says Tim, who has been in bookselling for over 20 years. “The current shop is a fantastic building but it’s always had limitations. I know we will do all we can to make the new shop feel like the same magical personal experience. The amount of space is incredible as is the fact that we are going from probably the smallest shop window in Axminster to the largest!”
With the above ground parts of the building all once again thriving, the focus now turns to the cellars as as a potential area of business and community activity. For the time being the basement belongs to Santa and his elves!