About Beckside Books
We took over the bookshop on 1st February 2019. We hadn’t planned on buying a bookshop when we picked up a flyer about the shop sale at the York Book Fair in September 2018 and thought, ‘why not have a day out in Penrith?’ But we loved the shop and the area so the rest, as they say, is history or madness!
Our backgrounds were archaeological conservation, literature, archives and grant making. Oh, and a love of collecting books obviously. Furthermore, redundancy meant that one of us was needing employment, so we embarked on this adventure…..
The shop overlooks St Andrew’s churchyard, in a central but quiet part of the historic Lake District town of Penrith. There has been a bookshop in the building, which dates from the early 19thtc Century, for around thirty years, although it has been Beckside Books only since 2007. Prior to that, it was St Andrew’s Bookshop.
We are one of three secondhand bookshops in Penrith, but as well as bookshops, Penrith boasts a diverse range of other specialist shops.
Come along for a visit and discover the breadth of excellent specialist and independent shops in Penrith.
Penrith museum is well worth a visit, with its collections of local heritage and fine art housed within a 17th century former schoolhouse.
Find out more about historical Penrith from the Penrith Heritage Trail.
Penrith boasts a small but lovely Nature Reserve around Thacka Beck reservoir, within walking distance of the centre. Thacka Beck runs underground right by the shop, hence the name. It surfaces briefly near the tourist information office and museum.
Did you know that nearly 1/3 of the population of Penrith died during the Plague of 1597-8? You can visit the plague stone, where residents were able to leave coins in the disinfectant-filled hollow and collect food without fear of viral contamination.
Beckside Bookshop stocks 14,000 very reasonably priced books.
Free Disc Parking
Free disc parking is available directly outside the bookshop (maximum stay 1 hour)
Not Just Books
As well as books, Beckside Bookshop sells maps, postcards and ephemera.
Beckside Bookshop is only a 2-minute walk from the bus station, taxi rank and main car park, and a 10-minute walk from the train station.
A long search for an image to use as a logo eventually turned up a wonderful drawing of a girl sitting reading under a tree. It was the perfect image, although it would have to be cropped to just the girl reading as the image in its entirety did not work well as a logo.
The image had been scanned from a book onto a website but unfortunately the owner of the website was unable to remember where she had taken it from. After days of searching the internet, the nearest we could get was that it may have come from a Blackie’s annual c.1920’s and possibly by children’s book illustrator A H Watson.
The style certainly bears a resemblance to that of Alice Helena Watson, who happens to have been born just 30 miles away in Cockermouth. After trying a number of angles, including looking at every Blackie annual we came across that might contain her illustrations, contacting surviving publishers she had worked with and looking for living family members, I finally gave up hope of getting any further. If you’re able to shed any light on the source of the original image then please do let us know!