It came to me as a sad sad news that the most beautiful Waterstones I’ve ever been to has closed down. It may be my favourite Waterstones, with all its grandeur found in the high ceilings, grand staircase and mezzanine – which provided a great view of the store and the shelves below. (Although, Waterstones Piccadilly is a close competition being the biggest bookstore in Europe and all)
I’ve heard the news about it closing down but it was still heart-breaking to see the blacked-out windows and scaffoldings around the building during my recent visit to Birmingham. No more are those hours of browsing in this 20 000 sq ft of book heaven.
I mean look at this all this!
The six-storey Waterstones bookshop on New Street was originally built as the regional HQ of Midland Bank. According to reports in Birmingham Post and Birmingham Mail, the iconic building is set to house Apple’s new store in the country’s second largest city. The Birmingham Mail said: “it is understood that Apple, Waterstones and the Grade II listed building’s owner Hortons’ Estate have agreed terms.”
Plans were also submitted to Birmingham City Council as early as the summer of 2015 for major changes to the interior of the building. Although the exterior will remain unchanged, the inside was proposed to be refurbished and completely stripped of the grand staircase (yesssss! the one you saw earlier in the photos), mezzanine and balcony.
But never fear! I put together a list of other book places you can visit when you found yourself in Birmingham city centre.
Waterstones Birmingham Hight Street
After a 9-week renovation, Waterstones Birmingham re-opened on November 2015. The new attractive shop front and fully revamped premises – which includes two cafés – is now the bookseller’s flagship store in the Midlands.
As the only remaining Waterstone’s store at the city centre, the efforts to transform it made sense. It was refitted with new flooring, seating and bookshelves. It now boasts a new basement housing the fiction department and a new floor dedicated to children’s section.
Library of Birmingham
The Library of Birmingham was opened by opened by Malala Yousafzai in September 2013. It holds the city’s collections of archives, photography and rare books. It also houses The Shakespeare Memorial Room (but more on that later!).
This is a magnificent building and I think I wouldn’t even mind studying in this library if I’m going to be surrounded all around with those shelves. You get a fantastic overview of library’s modern structure as you go up the escalator situated at its heart. And let me tell you, seeing floors and floors of bookshelves is a book nerd’s kind of view.
Sitting on the 7th floor terrace is The Secret Garden, which is a great place to read or just chill… that is if you’re not so scared of heights.
Shakespeare Memorial Room
This room has sure moved around.
It was first built in the Central Library in Birmingham by John Henry Chamberlain on 1882. Plans to demolish the Central Library in 1971 threatened the room, however it was ruled that it should be preserved. It was then stored at Sheepcote Street depot in 1974 and was eventually re-built at the School of Music in 1986.
The Shakespeare Memorial Room is now sitting on top of the Library of Birmingham since 2013.