4th March 2015 – Durham University announce new partnership with Sedbergh Book Town Literary Trust. Read/print the full text of the announcement (PDF).
Book towns were the brain‑child of book dealer and self-styled "King" of Hay‑on‑Wye, Richard Booth. In 1961 Hay became the first ever book town, and there are now well over twenty of them around the world.
Compared to Hay‑on‑Wye, most of the book towns that are to be found in Europe, South‑east Asia, North America and Australia are tiddlers. They tend to be small towns or villages located mostly in rural areas, and Sedbergh is no exception.
Anyone coming to Sedbergh expecting an "oop North" version of Hay‑on‑Wye, with a dish of tripe on the side, is going to be disappointed – and not just because the local butcher doesn't normally sell tripe.
There are only about eight bookshops in Sedbergh, depending on exactly what you count as a book shop. However, one of them is huge . . . . . .
Westwood Books, at the eastern end of Main Street is a family‑run enterprise that moved to Sedbergh from Hay‑on‑Wye in 2005. The former cinema is home to about 70,000 titles at any one time and it's the sort of place where browsers can lose all sense of time. It's worth a visit in its own right.
However, Westwood's is not Sedbergh's only attraction for bibliophiles. There are other smaller shops selling books in the town itself and at Farfield Mill Heritage Centre just a mile and a half away. Some are fairly general in their content, but there are also small‑scale specialists: Avril's Books at Farfield Mill (craft, textiles and applied arts), Sleepy Elephant (vintage children's books, local interest and guides), Sedbergh Information and Book Centre (18 different dealers represented, with specialisms including fine art, transport and sport).
And when your bibliophilic passion is spent – or you just need a little breather – remember that Sedbergh is also a rather nice little town, with cakes and ale and stunning views.