Warwick says a fond farewell to town's great character

Tributes have been paid to one of Warwick's longest running and most charismatic book sellers who died aged 79 after a long illness.

Thursday, 28th April 2016, 11:25 am
Updated Thursday, 28th April 2016, 12:39 pm
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Duncan Allsop set up an antiquarian and fine bindings bookshop in Smith Street in 1999 after moving from his first shop further up the road.

The father and grandfather this year celebrated 50 years of trading from the town centre in a career which covered everything from trading texts from the 1500s, travelling the world and refurbishing Warwick Castle’s extensive library.

His five decades of dedication to his work were this year marked with a 50-year honour from the Antiquarian Book Association (ABA) which Duncan was a member during his career.

GV - Allsop Book Shop, Smith Street, Warwick. NNL-160426-235059009

Duncan Allsop was born in Chesterfield in 1936 and went on to study at Christ King College. His book selling career started with the American firm, Stecheart-Hafner in 1954 where he was trained in London with American firm, Stecheart-Hafner - an agent for universities and libraries.

He went on to export books across the world based from the company’s London office before moving to Warwick to set up his own business.

He set up his first shop at Smith Street in Warwick in 1966 and opened his second shop in the same road in 1999.

Since that time he sold thousands of antique books, some of which date back to the 16th century.

GV - Allsop Book Shop, Smith Street, Warwick. NNL-160426-235059009

With help from his wife, Veronica, and cataloguer Simon Cunliffe, the businessman began exhibiting collections at book fairs across the UK - something the pair will continue to do in Duncan’s memory.

He refurbished libraries in mansions across the country - including the vast collection at Warwick Castle in what his wife said took weeks of work but was a highlight of his work in the town.

His wife of 13 years, Veronica has since descried him as a much loved father, grandfather and husband who will be missed by so many.

She said: “Duncan was loved and will be missed by many people. I have had so many cards and letters from people telling their stories and offering condolences.

“He was a wonderful and charismatic man and a keen sportsman who has taken with him a wealth of knowledge about his trade. He loved books and his customers but his real passion was for cricket.

“Duncan had endless connections and friends and he loved sitting outside the shop with a gin and tonic to talk to all the people he knew.

“He was just go gregarious and full of life, he excelled at everything he set his mind to.”

She said although the pair travelled the world to get to book fairs and the sea, Duncan always liked to come back to his home above the shop in 68 Smith Street.

The father of two, step-father of one and grandfather was a keen sportsman, playing cricket, rugby, squash and having a lifelong passion for sea swimming and skiing.

His funeral will be held at 11.30am on May 6 at North Chapel, Oakley Wood Crematorium and all are welcome.