Good Stuff

'Good Stuff' is defined by the Urban Dictionary as: 'Good news or information, or Good times'. Not sure as to whether any of what follows is news, but it does give some idea of our enthusiasms at Aardvark, and of the kind of madness that goes on as an everyday occurrence.

Our Story: The Story of Aardvark Books

Aardvark Books was founded in January 2004 by Sheridan Swinson and the late Edward Tobin, two career publishing professionals

John Challis Book Launch, 7 Oct 2011

who decided to start a book business that reflected their love of books, and their combined half-century of experience in the book trade.

(pictured here with actor and author John Challis at the launch of his first book, "Being Boycie" at Aardvark Books in October 2011. Photo courtesy of Roger Bright.)

 

Aardvark Remainders began with wholesale books in a disused pig-shed on Barons Cross Road in Leominster. The business grew fast, and six months later they moved to the Oxford Barn in Brampton Bryan, on the Harley Estate, selling books online as well as wholesale, and occasionally in summer putting out a table of books to sell at village events such as the Brampton Bryan Scarecrow Sunday. Edward also began taking stalls to sell cookery books at Food Festivals, beginning with Abergavenny and Ludlow, and reaching out as far afield as Bedfordshire, and Narberth in Pembrokeshire. Soon the stock of books outgrew the Oxford Barn, and more and more people had discovered the delights of searching for books in the warehouse.

To help protect the public from the hazards of negotiating wobbly stacks of books, and the dust of the warehouse, Edward and Sheridan rented The Reading Room, a former artist's studio, to accommodate the children's and specialist Art books, and a record player to play some of Sheridan's collection of jazz records. People continued to find Aardvark Books, not only local people but also many visitors, including (once) a party of re-enactors passing by. Because the Aardvarks were still falling over books which overflowed from the shelves, they realised in 2006 that they would have to find new premises, and in 2007 they moved to their existing premises in a beautiful 19th century barn on the borders of Herefordshire, Shropshire and Wales, the building known as the Bookery.

The Aardvark Bookery (or Book Barn)

The Aardvark Bookery was created in the summer of 2007 from a nineteenth century farm building, on the historic Harley Estate in the village of Brampton Bryan. Using the services of craftsmen who lived and worked on the estate, a special space was designed, and nearly 4,000 square feet of space for books built. Previously the barn had had many uses including being a grain store, and turkey farm, but such was the quality of the original workmanship that little structural work needed to be undertaken during the conversion. Aardvark Books opened its new premises on 1st September 2007. Today, following the opening of the BookBurrow in 2012, the bookshop is over 4,500 square feet.

The village of Brampton Bryan is itself notable as being the scene of an important Civil War Siege of 1643 when Lady Brilliana Harley defended the nearby castle with 70 retainers against the onslaught of a large Royalist force who had marched up from Hereford. Aardvark celebrate this every other year with the help of the English Civil War Society who besiege a replica castle with cannons and muskets, demonstrate pike actions and set up a living history camp in the fields under Harley's Mountain.

Two further rooms have been added, one containing a specialist children's book and play space called the BookBurrow, and the other a popup warehouse space that is used for markets, art exhibitions and other events.

The stock now encompasses over 50,000 titles - New, Secondhand and Rare - with outstanding selections in most categories including Art, Cookery, History, Fiction and Local Interest. New books are added to stock every day, and the entire stock holding turns over every two years on average.

As co-founder the late Edward Tobin wrote:

'It was important to create the right atmosphere, so that people who have discovered us can really have the space and time to escape into a different world. Also our rural location and consequent lower overheads have allowed us not only to have a huge range of stock, but also to sell our books at prices that are lower than other new or secondhand shops.'

Surrounded by ancient hills, rolling pasture land, and numerous sheep and cattle, Aardvark Books is a unique experience for book lovers of all ages.

Sadly Edward died in April 2014, but his legacy of a generous good nature and a love of books continues.

Click on one of the links below to find out more:

• Photo Gallery

• Press Clippings

• Bookworm Droppings

• Top 5's

• English Civil War

 

What’s in a name ?

In the case of Aardvark Books the answer is a lot. At the end of 2003 when Edward and I were setting up Aardvark Books, we spent many days thinking about where we were going to locate the business, what we were going to sell and who we would sell to.

On the name of the new business we spent less than 5 minutes. I had wanted to give the company the name of an animal, and had Edward suggested Squirrel books, that would be what we are now called.

Nearly 10 years on our name is perhaps the most memorable thing about us. So much so that I am greeted at social gatherings with the words, ‘I know you, you’re Mr Aardvark’.

From these humble beginnings the legend of Arthur and Ethel Aardvark was born....

 

 

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