End of a chapter: Sheringham bookshop closes after 115 years

Bertram A Watts bookseller has closed: Pictured is the shop in the early 20th century. Pictures: Pet

Bertram A Watts bookseller has closed: Pictured is the shop in the early 20th century. Pictures: Peter and Catherine Hill/ David Bale - Credit: Archant

It first opened more than a century ago and was one of the oldest businesses in Sheringham until it shut up shop at the weekend.

Bertram A Watts bookseller has closed: Pictured are Catherine and Peter Hill, who are retiring. Pict

Bertram A Watts bookseller has closed: Pictured are Catherine and Peter Hill, who are retiring. Pictures: Peter and Catherine Hill/ David Bale - Credit: Archant

Bertram A Watts bookshop, in the town's Church Street, has been run since 1991 by Catherine and Peter Hill, who are retiring.

Bertram A Watts bookseller has closed: Catherine and Peter Hill are retiring. Pictures: Peter and Ca

Bertram A Watts bookseller has closed: Catherine and Peter Hill are retiring. Pictures: Peter and Catherine Hill/ David Bale - Credit: Archant

Mrs Hill's grandfather Bertram Adam Watts first opened the shop in 1902.

Bertram A Watts bookseller has closed: Pictured is the founder Bertram Adam Watts. Pictures: Peter a

Bertram A Watts bookseller has closed: Pictured is the founder Bertram Adam Watts. Pictures: Peter and Catherine Hill/ David Bale - Credit: Archant

Her father Bertram Albert Watts then took it on, before they took charge 26 years ago, when it was given a complete refit.

Bertram A Watts bookseller has closed: Pictured is the shop in 1955. Pictures: Peter and Catherine H

Bertram A Watts bookseller has closed: Pictured is the shop in 1955. Pictures: Peter and Catherine Hill/ David Bale - Credit: Archant

Mr Hill has worked at the shop since 1973 and married in to the family.

Bertram A Watts bookseller has closed: Pictured is Bertram Albert Watts, who was Catherine Hill's fa

Bertram A Watts bookseller has closed: Pictured is Bertram Albert Watts, who was Catherine Hill's father. Pictures: Peter and Catherine Hill/ David Bale - Credit: Archant


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The couple revealed they had tried to sell it as a going concern without success.

Mrs Hill said: 'It's sad to be closing after 115 years, especially as I'm the third generation. Our children have got their own careers and did not want to take it on.

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'Book-selling has changed a lot, especially in the last 20 years, with competition from the internet and Amazon. WH Smith's is just down the road as well.

'High streets have changed and people's shopping habits. At its height in the 1980s we employed about 15 staff.

'But I don't think my father or grandfather would be that upset. They were both very realistic and would have agreed that now was the right time to move on.'

The couple, who live in Sheringham and have eight grandchildren, have been busy clearing the building's three floors of stock, with some fixtures and fittings set to be sold through Key's auctioneers.

They have to vacate the premises by May 22, but don't know when the new owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, will move in. The shop will still be used for retail.

Mr Hill said: 'We sold nearly all of the books. We had a 50pc then a 75pc sale before we closed, and there were queues out of the door.

'We had a fairly loyal customer base, but it's harder to make a living, unless you serve a niche market.

'I will miss the customers most. For the last 44 years I've worked most Saturdays, so that will be a nice change.'

The store once accommodated a post office, a library and a newsagent. The top floor has always been offices.

Mr Hill added: 'I think Blyth and Wright's ironmongers in Station Road is the only older shop left now.'

Bertram A Watts bookshop in Sheringham is not to be confused with Bertram Books which continues to trade at its Broadland Business Park base, in Thorpe St Andrew. The Bertram Family sold it on February 3, 1999.

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