Which city centre Waterstone’s should go?
Dec 15 2007 by Chloe Griffiths, The Journal
A HISTORIC building which is closing as a bookshop on Christmas Eve will start a new chapter as a high-street clothes store next year.
The elegant three-storey listed building at 104 Grey Street in Newcastle will close as a Waterstone’s on Christmas Eve.
Now The Journal has learnt the property has been taken over by Swedish clothes and cosmetics shop H&M.
However, a company spokeswoman has said the prime retail spot will not be opening its doors again until April.
H&M already have a large, three-storey shop on nearby Northumberland Street, but yesterday a spokeswoman said the shop would offer “a couple of different concepts” from its existing store.
Waterstone’s – which has another branch across the Monument on Blackett Street – have decided to withdraw from the city centre spot after saying it is “commercially unviable” to have two sites so close together.
The shop’s 10 permanent employees are now in talks with bosses to find alternative employment within the company.
The store also employs numerous part-time workers, the number varying on the season, but thought to be as high as 28 at the busiest times.
But yesterday many shoppers outside the popular store said they would be sad to see it go.
They also expressed surprise that Waterstone’s had decided to retain the Blackett Street store, which was a branch of Dillon’s until taken over by Waterstones in 1999.
Mother-of-three Andrea Eastwood, of Walkley Avenue, in North Shields, said: “I’ve always thought it strange that Waterstone’s have two shops so close together, but it’s still a shame to hear it’s closing. I always come into the Grey Street store first and I think it’s much nicer, so I’m surprised they’ve decided to keep the other one open.
“Although I do shop at H&M, the shop on Northumberland Street is very big and I don’t really think we need another one.”
Grandfather Peter Jones, a retired civil servant of Gosforth in Newcastle said: “It’s just typical. Important and useful shops like bookshops are closing and we hardly need another clothes shop in Newcastle.”
The 68-year-old added: “The problem is that so many people use the internet these days, but there’s nothing like coming and looking at a book before you buy it.”
But student Sally Pickering, of Second Street, in Heaton, said: “I think its fantastic.
“The shopping in Newcastle is getting better and better and I think it’s only to get stronger.
“All we need now is a Selfridges or a Harvey Nichols.”
The 22-year-old, originally from Sheffield, said: “There was no real need to have two bookshops facing each other in the first place.”
The Grey Street building has been one of the most prominent in the city centre since the last 19th Century when it was used an apothecary.
From 1912 it was Mawson, Swan and Morgan Ltd – a famous company started by Sunderland-born physicist and chemist Joseph Swan who went on to invent the light bulb.
:: If Waterstone's has to close one of its city centre stores, are they closing the right one? Vote now in our online vote.