History

exterior image of Harbour Bookshop Kingsbridge

Yes, we are related to the original Harbour Bookshop owned by Christopher Robin Milne.

As many of you know, Mr and Mrs Milne started the Harbour Bookshop in Dartmouth in the very early 1950’s. With care and dedication, it became a much-loved bookshop and a real landmark in the town. He stayed for many years, quietly and successfully, running the bookshop with his wife, Lesley.

On his retirement, in the early 1980’s, he passed the Harbour Bookshop on to Bruce and Nicolette Coward, bookworms and adventurers both, and the bookshop went from strength to strength. They had worked closely with Mr and Mrs Milne and the bookshop kept the same high standards of service and carefully curated books.

It was during this time, the Harbour Bookshop had one of its greatest strokes of good fortune.

A young woman called Louise walked into the bookshop. She was just 20 years old and was there to complete a YTS course on bookselling. Starting from scratch, she took to it like the proverbial duck to water, rapidly absorbing every detail and nuance in the bookselling world. She had happened on what so few of us find; her vocation.

When it came time to expand, Bruce and Nicolette knew that there was just one person who could handle the gigantic task of opening and managing a sister bookshop and keeping the standards as high as ever; Louise. So in 1984, ably assisted by Helen, Louise packed the books and sailed out of Dartmouth, around Start Point and up the Salcombe estuary into Kingsbridge.

In 1994, nearing retirement, Bruce and Nicolette sold The Harbour Bookshop in Kingsbridge to Pat and David Abrehart. Pat, who had worked in the bookshop for years, took to the task with great enthusiasm, eventually widening the shop into the next-door premises and expanding the children’s section.

Pat and David owned the bookshop during some very challenging years. We are all familiar with what happened to nearly ¾ of the bookshops around the country. During this time, the original Harbour Bookshop in Dartmouth was sold and eventually succumbed to brutal online competition. It was an immensely sad time for all concerned but Dartmouth has rallied around and now has two independent bookshops. 


In 2016, Pat began to give serious thought to retirement and in 2017 passed the bookshop to Jane. With energy and dedication, Jane and Louise are ensuring that the Harbour Bookshop in Kingsbridge remains a steadfast constant in the town, maintaining the same commitment to the community with dedicated service and a great book-buying experience.

In the past year, we have:

  • Given each of our 12 primary schools a copy of the beautiful book ‘The Lost Words’ by Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris.
  • Donated to the Booktrust Appeal for Christmas parcels for children in care.  
  • Set up the new Poetry prizes for the Kingsbridge Show with crystal awards and book token prizes.
  • We’ve donated dozens of raffle prizes to every person raising money for charity or a local school.

    Louise at the reopening of the bookshopprevious owner Pat Abrehart with author Marcia WillettLouise in 2018 at a recent book signing