York’s renowned ‘anti-bookshop’ is to be turned into a house

The window of Stone Trough books. Photograph: Rachel Rogers
23 Jan 2020 @ 7.15 pm
| Business

One of Britain’s most idiosyncratic bookshops is set to become a house.

Stone Trough Books on Walmgate was run for more than 30 years by George Ramsden, a true character even among the notoriously eccentric world of booksellers.

The shop on Walmgate. Photographs: Richard McDougall
More a collector and cataloguer of books than a shopkeeper, he was renowned for reconstructing the library of famous US novelist Edith Wharton.

And he was very honest about his abilities as a salesman. “Things tend to go better if I walk away from the customer,” he once said.

But he dig go on to sell the Edith Wharton library for a £1.5 million (about £2.6 million today), to the Mount, a cultural centre in Massachusetts based at Wharton’s home.

George died last April. And now the shop he ran is about to fade from view too.

An application has gone in to turn the shop into a two-bedroom house.

‘I could be selling ice cream’

When George died both the Daily Telegraph and The Times ran his obituary.

The Telegraph noted that Stone Trough was known by some as the ‘anti-bookshop’.


In an interview with the Bookdealer in February 2000 George said:

  • I like having a shop in York. It gets me out of the house for a few days a week. It’s warm and there’s an extremely good pub a hundred yards up the road.

    It takes a long time to get to know your customers in York; they drift in and out like flotsam and jetsam, and never ask advice.

    The customers who know what they’re doing tend to go to Ken Spelman.

The shop recently achieved fame as one of the locations in film Mad To Be Normal. David Tennant, playing psychiatrist RD Laing, shot a scene signing books in Stone Trough.