WHEN shopping for stationery, you don't normally assume you are standing in a piece of protected history.

But that is the case for shoppers in one Somerset town after a branch of WHSmith was appointed Grade II Listed.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has listed the High Street shop in Weston super Mare on the advice of Historic England.

The listing is one of the outcomes of the Great Weston Heritage Action Zone, which is unlocking the economic potential of Weston’s historic town centre.

Built in 1926 as WH Smith & Son rapidly expanded, the new store, a substantial rebuilding of two earlier shops, has been a successful example of converting established business premises, Historic England said.

Its lavish façade and lending library are typical of early 20th century WHSmith shopfittings.

The façade’s lead panels feature carvings of flowers and animals, and coats of arms of Somerset, Bath, Bristol and Taunton.

Weston-super-Mare itself is not represented because the town’s coat of arms was not created until 1928.

The frieze above the windows includes a quote from Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus (Act 4, Scene 1) ‘Come and take choice of all my library / And so beguile thy sorrow.’

It is carved in the official font of WHSmith created in 1903 by Arts and Crafts designer Eric Gill (1882 – 1940).

The decorative scheme continues in the former lending library which features neo-Tudor plaster work of rustic scenes and a man holding a leather-bound book.

Somerset County Gazette:

During the recent refurbishment

Rebecca Barrett, regional director for Historic England in the South West, said: “It’s great news that the Secretary of State has agreed with our recommendation to list Weston’s historic branch of WHSmith.

"As a bookshop and library it has played an important role in the lives of the people of Weston for generations.

"Its beautiful details add character to the town and are clearly helping attract visitors and shoppers into Weston’s historic heart.”

Somerset County Gazette:

The interior features amazing details

Cllr Mark Canniford, executive member for business, economy and employment at North Somerset Council, said: “We’re delighted that this impressive building has been recognised for its stunning architecture and its recent restoration.

"WHSmith’s work is an example of how we can improve the town’s architectural heritage and celebrate some of our truly remarkable buildings.

"WHSmith have demonstrated a real faith in Weston and we applaud their commitment to our High Street.”

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The newly-refurbished shop

Helen Burgess, group property director at WHSmith, said: “We are really pleased to learn that the building has now been listed.

"The response from customers and locals following the reconstructive work to the building and fascia has been very positive, and we are glad that the community continues to enjoy the restored appearance and shopping experience.”

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