Let’s face it – we all love books. Even if you own an e-reader or download books to your mobile or tablet, there’s still nothing like them . . . The smell of the paper, whether the book is freshly off the shelf, or it’s a dog-eared edition from decades ago, and of course the little thrill you get when turning a page. If you know what we’re talking about here, then read on . . .

Antonia Cook, who was born and raised in the town, runs the Trowbridge Town Hall Shop, which you’ll find within the Town Hall on Market Street. But it’s not just about books with this new venture – Antonia has also made it her mission to help local artists get their work recognised by the wider public.

What’s more, she herself loves to read, so ending up running the shop really is a dream come true for her.
She says “When I started working here, the shop was already open. Although I started working for the Town Hall in another job role, when the curator left, I took on the shop myself.”

Antonia started her new role in January this year – and then just a few weeks later, the Town Hall went into lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Antonia continues “It has been alright. We’ve obviously been a bit quiet over the last few months. We had some online sales, but it never beats customers coming in, so I can chat with them and  give them recommendations. I really am so pleased we have been able to reopen.”

The shop has a special creative section of books which Antonia says is ‘mostly stuff I have read before and loved’, and the rest of the space showcases local artists’ work for sale.

Antonia agrees that the Town Hall is the ideal location for a shop promoting reading and the arts.  She says “The building is absolutely stunning. Although I grew up in the town, I had never actually been inside here, so when I started working here, I absolutely loved it.”

What does Antonia think of the general feeling from people in Trowbridge toward books and art? Antonia adds “This is one of the only places in the Trowbridge area that you can come to see art. There is a gallery on the first floor, and I really can’t think of anywhere else around here where you can buy local artists’ work.

“I think people really like that because it is something different. We currently have around fifty artists who place their work in the shop and at least three people who come up to me a month asking if they can show their work.That is really positive.”

Antonia mostly works on her own in the shop, but did have volunteers who helped out before Covid-19 took hold.
“Because of the pandemic, we haven’t really been able to make use of our volunteers, but usually we have a great group who are happy to give their time to come in and cover the shop – I really couldn’t do without them.”

Unsurprisingly, Antonia is herself a bookworm, getting through a book per week – she’s a big fan of horror reading.

So, if you are looking for the ideal read for these chilly Autumn evenings, why not pay the shop a visit?