Barter Books Children's Corner (Alnwick)

Thanks to our writer Bethanie from Girl About Northumberland for this post and photos. 

Barter Books Children's Corner (Alnwick)

Visit one of Britain’s largest second hand book shops: the perfect day out with kids if they love reading and eating a tasty shortbread biscuit. Barter Books undoubtedly is one of the most popular places to visit in Alnwick at any time throughout the year.

Personally, my absolute favourite time of year to visit is in the winter. The fires are lit, and it is lovely and cosy.

Barter Books Children's Corner (Alnwick)  - entrance

The area of Barter Books I want to share with you is the children’s corner. It isn’t often you find yourself in a bookshop where the children have a toy van to drive or comfy bean bags to sit on while reading books. 

Barter Books Children's Corner (Alnwick)

I don’t know about you, but always feel self-conscious of other customers when I am in a book shop with the kids in tow. Are they making too much noise etc? When will I find chance to have a browse of the adult section without them becoming bored? 

It is for this very reason I enjoy coming to Barter Books with the kids and head for the children’s corner…

A history on Barter Books.

Barter Books is set in the old, Victorian railway station, that was designed by William Bell in 1887. It is an impressive size for the small market town of Alnwick. 

In 1991, Mary Manley opened the second hand book shop based on a swap system. Barter Books was born. 

 It is hoped that one day the old railway line will be restored. You can find out more about this on the Aln Valley Railway website (, as the project is ongoing. 

Over the years, the popular bookshop has grown, attracting customers from all over the world. Visitors can enjoy browsing the bookshelves at their leisure, even reading new discoveries while enjoying a cup of hot coffee in the Station Buffet. 

Children’s Corner at Barter Books.

Conveniently tucked away in the corner of the shop, the children’s corner is one of the places you don’t feel like you are disturbing other customers. I often feel on edge taking my young children around the other independent or even chain bookshops as I worry about disturbing other customers. 

Of course, I’m almost certain that nobody minds children in a bookshop, nevertheless I feel a bit more relaxed sitting in the children’s corner of Barter Books. 

Upon entering Barter Books, head through the main walkway and turn right at the till area. It is around this corner you will find the children’s section. 

Before the pandemic, there were big bean bags to flop down onto, wheely bug ride on toys and a couple of cuddly friends to read your books too. Since reopening following the lockdowns, these little “extras” seemed to have disappeared. I hope one day they will return as they really were a lovely addition to this corner. 

What has stayed however is the book van, which the children can sit in and pretend to drive. 

You will find here a range of second hand children’s books, from a baby’s first picture book right up to books for teenagers. There is also a non-fiction section and rows and rows of books for older children as well as the younger section. 

Children (and adults) will also love looking out for the moving trains which travel around in the main section of Barter Books. Don’t forget to look up! 

Having an account with Barter Books.

If you have a collection of unwanted books at home, you can bring them in to Barter Books and donate them. The books will be assessed. Read through the guidance for taking in books (   before your visit. 

You can browse the bookshelves or pop into the café while you wait for them to look through your books. When you go back, usually up to half an hour, they will let you know if they can accept your books and how much they will give you for them.

An account is then opened in your name and the value of the books added to your account. You can then purchase books and dvds within Barter Books using your account balance. Isn’t that great?

We currently have a total of £50 which has added up quickly. The only place you can’t use the balance is in the café, otherwise you are free to choose books at your fancy and build your library at home. 

More information.

Barter Books is open every day from 9-7pm, including Sundays. The Station Buffet has a menu serving hot and cold foods as well as your teas/coffees etc. Opening times for the Station Buffet are 9-5pm with the last orders for hot food being 4.30pm. You can visit their website here:

Barter Books Children's Corner (Alnwick)  - opening hours

Use postcode NE66 2NP to get to Barter Books. There is free parking including disabled bays at the main entrance. If you can’t get parked however, the book shop is only a short walk from the town centre, where there is also free parking. 

Dogs are welcome. 

Looking for more ideas for things to do in Alnwick? Check out my guide to visiting Alnwick here. 



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