A new chapter for Bedford's bookshop which has become a hit with the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Benedict Cumberbatch

It is no exaggeration to describe The Eagle Bookshop as a Bedford institution.

Thursday, 24th October 2019, 6:15 pm
Peter Budek (left) with some of his team

First opened 18 years ago, the secondhand bookstore has gained customers from across the globe, provided tomes for a series of hit TV shows and films, and provided a venue for many of the town's artists.

And now a new chapter has begun, with the store having relocated from its original home in Castle Road to a new base in St Peter's Street on Monday (October 21).

Owner Peter Budek told the Times & Citizen: "There's been a real shift in the business over recent years, and this move reflects that.

"We're seeing a lot more young people coming into the shop - sometimes it's young people dragging their parents in! And for today's children, they can watch a film like The Railway Children, and then pick up a book that would have been handled by the children from that era, which would have been read by children who had a steam train running behind their home.

"There's also a lot more of a gender balance now - we have a lot more women shopping at the store. So our customers are as likely to be under 40 as over 40, and as likely to be women as they are men."

Peter first opened the Eagle Bookshop in August 1991, when it was just a one-room store in Castle Road, with him living in the flat upstairs.

Over the years the premises increased, with Peter taking over adjoining buildings, moving out of the flat to expand the business to the first floor, and even opening the Eagle Gallery next door which runs as a cooperative. The gallery has also moved to St Peter's Street as part of the change.

But the Castle Road premises were not only the site of business success - Peter was so charmed by one customer who came in during the early years that he struck up a conversation, gave her a 10 per cent discount, then a 20 per cent discount the next time, and within a few years had married her!

The shop has also provided books for a range of films - including The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Proof starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Mamma Mia! and The Invisible Woman - as well as television shows such as Poirot and Lewis.

While the shop has been hosting poetry events for some time, the new premises will allow the number of people attending to increase.

Other changes will increase a new bay dedicated to local authors, book launches and signing events, hosting writing events, and even stocking new books about local matters.