Newcastle bookshops: Steedman's

Steedman's has gone. I found the shop empty with a card in the window simply saying the shop was closed and giving no indication of whether the business had been moved elsewhere. You can see from the picture why Drif in his 1992-93 Guide said the shop is disguised as a building society "which has decided old books are the image of the month".

As a grammar school boy (like the Steedmans themselves) I sometimes called in here at the end of the day on my way to the Lit and Phil - though only for a few minutes as it kept old fashioned 9 - 5 hours. I remember the day I was admitted for the first time to the real stock kept in glass-fronted cases in the back room behind the little swinging gate.

George Randall records a visit here in the 1980s: "The customer enters a hushed, heated orderly shop, in an atmosphere somewhat like a bank. Decent copies everywhere. Only a typewriter in a back office impinges on the silence. Young Mr Steedman, dressed in a suit and looking like a football manager, leaves his look-out position at the front and, with perfect tradesmen's' manners, asks whether he can help. Steedman pere trundles about on vague errands. . . . During the course of my visit not a single customer came into the shop and the telephone never ran. At 4.20 a cup of tea appeared on young Mr Steedman's desk. Clearly the art of bookselling has been mastered here."

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