From the time that the Station Flea Markets started in the late seventies, there have always been a couple book stalls alongside the other stalls. The Station was seen as the perfect place in which to sell books even before the Station's restoration which began around the mid-eighties.
In 1993, following 3 very successful May Day Festivals (the first in 1990), the Council decided that as an experiment, they would organise a large-scale book fair, in conjunction with Friends of Tynemouth Station (FoTS) along the lines of the May Day Festivals.
The very first large-scale book fair was held in the Station in August 1993. It celebrated all aspects of the written and spoken word. It included local publishers, authors reading from their work, storytelling, papermaking, cartoon workshops, and a small number of second-hand book stalls.
A couple of these stalls had a very enjoyable day and an added bonus was that visitors did not have to pay an entrance fee, which has continued to this day.
They asked if we could organise a small-scale book fair just for book dealers and others who might like to try their hand at selling books, some of which they might have inherited etc.
the first of these small book fair was held in October 1993, again in conjunction with North Tyneside Council, but now with a large input from North Tyneside Library Service. This was very successful, but on this occasion it was held on the much small West Concourse, where it would not disturb the ever expanding Flea Markets.
Again all the book sellers enjoyed themselves so much that they hoped we could organise further book fairs like this at the Station.
SO THE IDEA OF TYNEMOUTH STATION BOOK FAIRS WAS BORN.
The beginning of a pattern was established with one large-scale book festival in August and 3 smaller ones being held in April, June and October. These small book fairs continued as a joint project with the Library Service even after the large-scale book fairs were discontinued.
This was very important, as the Council were able to help by providing the tables before we were able to source some second-hand ones for ourselves.
Eventually, for various reasons, including a change of senior management within North Tyneside Library Service, when the Council withdrew all support from the Book Fairs, the Station Book Fairs became the sole responsibility of the Friends of Tynemouth Station. A pattern of 4 Fairs per year, occupying the whole of the West Concourse, has continued to this day.
A very important by-product of the book fairs has been the relationship between Station Developments Ltd, the Book Fairs and the Arts in Tynemouth Station – in particular the ongoing exhibitions in the Bridge Gallery which rely on the profits made from the book fairs to provide matched funding, which is usually required to when applying for grants, etc, for the exhibitions and the other expenses which are always incurred.
Tynemouth Station Book Fair has developed a character all of its own; friendly, indoor-yet-outdoor thanks to its unique railway platform setting, and complemented always by its eclectic sister-market just across the bridge.
There's nowhere else quite like it.