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  • Steve Baskerville-Muscutt runs Fred’s Ambleside Bookshop

10 Apr 2019

Steve Baskerville-Muscutt runs Fred’s Ambleside Bookshop

“When I acquired it, Fred said to me that I could change the name of it. But I can’t, it will always be Fred’s bookshop. I am just at the tiller taking it forward. I always say to people, I have been here in the Lakes for 50 years now and it’s almost been like a 50 year holiday. I’ve worked hard, but it’s just so enjoyable and I can’t think of anywhere else I would want to live.”

“When I first came to the Lakes in the seventies I used to buy all my books here and there were records upstairs, it was great.

Fred Holdsworth, who is in his eighties now, set the shop up in the mid-fifties and never looked back. There were halcyon years in the seventies and eighties with Charlotte Mason College and the students, it was very vibrant and there were all sorts of writers and artists coming here; famously Anthony Hopkins used the lavatory in the back of the shop!

I worked in and ran various businesses around town; restaurants and galleries. I sold a restaurant and took a part time job here and it just went from there. When Fred retired in about 2001 it seemed a good idea to take it on.

It’s not been easy, but we’re still here. We used to have the tourist trade in the summer, the local customers and then the students over the winter. When the internet came along that almost disappeared overnight because people weren’t wanting to pay the prices in the shop when they were cheaper online.

Now it’s fundamentally the holiday trade and a small core of locals. We get repeat customers who come back every year when they are here on holiday. Our strength is having books that people wouldn’t necessarily see in the mainstream bookshops and knowing enough about the books that we can make informed recommendations.

We read an awful lot and if people tell us what they’ve read then we can generally steer them towards something they might like. We have a good range of all the local maps and walking guides and books, children’s books, crime fiction - everything people might want to read when they’re on holiday.

When I acquired it, Fred said to me that I could change the name of it. But I can’t, it will always be Fred’s bookshop. I am just at the tiller taking it forward. I always say to people, I have been here in the Lakes for 50 years now and it’s almost been like a 50 year holiday. I’ve worked hard, but it’s just so enjoyable and I can’t think of anywhere else I would want to live.”