Barmouth Book Cellar

A secret book snuggery by the sea

With a fine sea view in front, the mountains behind, the glorious estuary running eight miles inland, and Cadair Idris within compass of a day’s walk, Barmouth can always hold its own against any rival.”
William Wordsworth

BOOK SIGNEstablished in 1905, the Walter Lloyd Jones Showroom has conducted auctions and sold a range of antiques and bric-a-brac on Barmouth’s High Street since the 1920s.

In its constantly changing window displays one will frequently spot an assortment of used books scattered decoratively to enhance a particular theme – for instance, Henry James novels may be arranged in an aesthetically pleasing manner to compliment a hug of shabby teddy bears in a child’s toy pram, or a battered copy of Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management might be placed next to an old mangle and various Victorian utensils. Indeed, within the shop itself there are umpteen titles hidden amongst china tea sets, period style rocking chairs, oak jardinières and a mishmash of other bygone household trinkets.



The view from outside is sufficiently tempting to lure me into the showroom’s cluttered interior whenever I visit this fine Welsh seaside resort, but there’s an added incentive that no self-respecting bibliomane could possibly resist. Concealed amongst the gewgaws and bibelots is the entrance to a winding staircase, which, in turn, leads to a warren of low-ceilinged passageways and frowsty, crypt-like rooms, each one heaving with second-hand publications of every size and genre. This network of subterranean literary chambers is called the Book Cellar.

Once one has become adjusted to the claustrophobic surrounds and bare electric light bulbs dangling between overcrowded shelves, it is possible to while away a whole afternoon rootling through dusty classics, vintage paperbacks, green-spined wonders and occasional rarities. I seldom leave without stuffing my backpack to the gills with more reading material than I could ever hope to devour in a month of Sundays.

Tomorrow, I have therefore set-aside a whole day to potter about the town centre, or to put it another way, spend an indefinite number of hours holed-up in Barmouth’s bookish underworld.



Below ground


Vinyl too!


Deeper and deeper


Where to start?

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62 replies

  1. I love bookstores and visit them every time I travel

  2. This looks like the perfect place to spend hours in.

  3. Oh my goodness, this looks absolutely wonderful!

  4. Looks fabulous — me, I think I’d take a thermos, sarnies and a sleeping bag.

  5. I bet it smells delicious ♥️!

  6. And don’t we all just love haunts like this.

  7. OK, in all the many years I visited Barmouth when my kids were small and we had family holidays in Wales, I never saw this place. How could I miss it??? And when can I go back???? ;D

  8. Oh my goodness, what an amazing place. I need to go!

  9. This sounds marvellous! Browsing in there would be my idea of bliss. I wonder what goodies you will unearth tomorrow?

  10. If we don’t hear from you in a week, we’ll send the Cave Rescue Team in to dig you out! 😉

  11. This looks lovely! I’d be worried about the state of my wallet afterwards 😉

  12. Oh, my gosh…too good to be true! We want to read all about what you find!!!

  13. That view as you cross the estuary by train is amazing with the mountains as a backdrop to the sea. One of my favourites. Plus books! I was in Barmouth once and said out loud ‘I could live here’ and a woman heard and said ‘You wouldn’t like it in the winter!’ I think I would but she wasn’t happy to be there. Had followed her daughter – so I suppose it must have annoyed her to feel she wasn’t there by choice. Glad you enjoyed it!

    • I agree, Maria, the view is stunning. I love the Barmouth area during the winter because it’s so peaceful. Admittedly, it can a bit wild at times (though, I rather enjoy a good storm) but equally, on a day such as today, the sun shines and the scenery is spectacular. 😎

  14. What a place! Love how you’ve brought it alive for us 😊 I’m imagining you there right now, delving amongst the treasures. My problem would be how to choose. I do hope you will let us know what you have chosen when you finally emerge again into the light!

  15. 😍😍looks so cool~ I was already squinting trying to read the titles 😂😂

  16. I could easily get lost in here💜 FYI, I visited Hay-on-Wye many years ago and was in book heaven.

  17. This looks like heaven!

  18. Ooohhhhh! Absolutely wonderful!

  19. Next time I come to North Wales I’ll bear this in mind as a stopping-off place! 🙂

  20. That looks amazing!

  21. Oh my god, Paula. Barmouth is one of my favourite places on the planet. All of my childhood holidays were in Fairbourne across the estuary. I’ve been back regularly as an adult. In almost 5 decades, I’ve only ever looked in the window at Walter Lloyd Jones. I’ve never been inside. I can’t believe there’s a book emporium in there. You’ve astounded me!

    • We have a lodge in Talybont, so spend a fair bit of time in Barmouth. The very first occasion I went into Walter Lloyd Jones’s was about three years ago when I was seeking a large milk jug because we were fed up of looking at a 4 pint plastic bottle on the breakfast table every morning. Anyhow, while rooting about for a suitable receptacle, I realised there were books – EVERYWHERE! The Book Cellar (in the bowels of the building) is a fairly recent addition – it’s been there for about 12 months – but there have always been (still are) books galore upstairs. It’s certainly worth a visit if you’re not the claustrophobic type.😂

  22. It sounds absolutely wonderful. Your description of the window displays are amazing. I can see it.

  23. Beautifully written post Paula, loved it and would love to visit Barmouth just to visit this wonderful labyrinth


  1. #Winding Up the Week #94 – Book Jotter

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