COLUMN: Scarthin Books’ owner, David Mitchell, writes about the firm’s 40 year anniversary

Scarthin Books fortieth anniversary, David and Eve Booker and Dave, Kathy and Clare Mitchell
Scarthin Books fortieth anniversary, David and Eve Booker and Dave, Kathy and Clare Mitchell

In 1972, after a six-month struggle, I managed to buy Scarthin House, an unimproved barn of a building complete with an empty shop on the ground floor and overlooking the then half silted-up Cromford Dam.

In 1974 my wife and I opened the shop to sell both new and second-hand books. A contract from the erstwhile Matlock Teachers’ Training College helped make a hobby into a self-supporting business and I gave up my day job in 1976.

Soon the books began to creep up the stairs onto the landing and into the living rooms, even into the roof.

After twenty years, we knocked a hole in the garden wall and moved next door allowing the shop to spread, room-by-room, until it filled the entire house plus a couple of discrete extensions.

Over the years, a succession of friends have supplied the business sense and organisation to complement my laid-back eccentricity and with the opening of the children’s bookroom and café in 1994 Scarthin Books has developed into an institution appreciated by book-lovers across Britain and beyond. Visitors are astonished to find a bookshop with nearly 100,000 volumes thriving so far off the beaten track and love exploring this ‘homely rainstorm refuge’.