The Barter Books shop is in an old railway station. It has loads of interesting attractions including the Station Buffet,a model railway acting as a link between the book columns of the central room, along with poetry lines. There is a stunning 40-foot murals,a mini-cybercafé (well, two computers!) and free wi-fi. There are numerous restored station features. There is a children’s room with enough toys to allow parents and grandparents to browse elsewhere in peace – provided one guardian is left to look after the children! And a whole huge room lined with over forty glass cases containing many of the more interesting antiquarian books
The interior of Barter Books is made up of seven rooms. The entrance was the old Station Parcels’ Room, which still has the open window with bars through which passengers would buy railway tickets. Just beyond that window was the original Station entrance, now the Children’s Room. The middle room marks the beginning of the outbound platform, with the buffers at one end.
Off one side of this room and directly opposite what is now the Children’s Room is a range of rooms which formed the central island of the station. These now contain the Old waiting room which remains a place for the public just to sit, read newspapers, enjoy the open fire, drink coffee – and just get away from it all, toilets and buffet. Flanking this range of rooms is the biggest room of the shop, part of the old outgoing platform where the trains stopped. (The demarcations of the well for the tracks, now filled in with concrete, are still clearly visible.)
Barter Books has made its place in history as it was responsible for the ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ poster! After being forgotten for more than half a century, a rare original of the now famous WWII poster was rediscovered in a box of old books bought at auction in one of the largest and most popular secondhand bookshops in Britain.When the bookshop owners had the poster framed and put up in the shop, customer interest was so great that in 2001 theyle started producing facsimile copies for sale – copies which were soon copied and recopied to make of the Keep Calm poster one of the first truly iconic images of the 21st century.