New chapter for White Horse Bookshop
The White Horse Bookshop in Marlborough could expand its range of books by 75 per cent following its buyout by two wealthy businessmen.
Wiltshire’s deputy lieutenant Robert Hiscox, who lives at the Rainscombe Park estate in Oare, and Aldbourne estate owner Brian Kingham have joined forces to buy the freehold of the independent store from Michael Pooley, who has run it since 1973.
They have appointed 47-year-old former Waterstones manager Angus MacLennan to manage the High Street shop and he is looking to build on its range of books.
Mr MacLennan, who has been a bookseller for 22 years, said: “It is extremely exciting. It is not very often you get this opportunity in my line of work.
“With so much responsibility it is not without pressure. When you are an independent there is no safety net. It depends on us getting it right and getting the community behind us and involved. From there, great things will happen.”
The first floor of the bookshop, which dates back to the 17th century, sells art materials and supplies.
Mr MacLennan hopes to move those supplies into the shop’s basement and fill the first floor with more books.
He said: “We hope to increase the book range by 75 per cent to make it somewhere people can find what they want. We want enough range to make it worth the journey.”
The shop will continue to work closely with organisers of the Marlborough Literary Festival.
Mr MacLennan, who has managed four bookshops, the most recent being Waterstones in Kings Road, Chelsea, said: “It is vital for bookshops if you can do those extracurricular things. It is not just about sales, it is about people being interested in the medium.”
Mr Hiscox said: “The town desperately wanted a bookshop. Brian Kingham and I thought the town deserved a bookshop. Every town should have a one, especially when it has a literary festival.
“Angus’ job is to buy things that people want to buy. He will make it the focal point of the town and make sure people talk about books, look at books and buy books.
“It is very important that people read. It is part of our culture. Books have been going since paper was invented and will always be sold.”
Mr Pooley, 71, said he was delighted to be passing the baton over to Mr Hiscox and Mr Kingham.
He said: “There cannot be two better people. I had all sorts of offers for other things but I wanted it to be a bookshop.
“They are going to improve it and spend quite a bit of money on the place. It shall be great, I cannot be more pleased. People are very upbeat about it.”
Some members of staff will remain at The White Horse Bookshop but Mr Pooley could not comment on how many.