A bookshop with a story to tell that’s as good as any of the titles it stocks; is well into its once a year sale.

The highly imaginatively titled Osterley Bookshop, in Thornbury Road, Osterley, is for the seventh year in a row slashing prices for the whole of September.

Literature fans are welcome to come in a browse to their hearts content and then leave with armfuls of books for half price (well on all those originally priced under £8 - which the owners assure us is about 70 per cent of the stock).

However, if you do happen to pop in to quench your thirst for a bargain, don’t be alarmed if there’s no-one there to greet you!

Getwestlondon paid an announced visit last week and stepped inside to find the place deserted save for a lone customer quietly browsing in a side room of oddities.

“You’ll have to ring the bell” he said after we’d stood in polite silence for a few minutes puzzling over the fact there seemed to be a dozen eggs for sale beside the till - not what you would expect from a place where the latest John Grisham thriller is more generally to be seen on sale.

Eggs are on sale alongside the expected stock at Osterley Bookshop
 

The shop is owned by local husband and wife team Tony and Pennie who can quote you chapter and verse about the history of their establishment as they were the founders of it a grand total of 47 years ago.

A press of the bell summoned Tony from a back room - in which we were soon happily seated with a cup of tea waiting to hear all about how ‘The Jewel in Osterley’s Crown’ - as The Guardian once dubbed it - came to be.

For those in the know, the bookshop actually inhabits the shell of first Osterley Station which opened in 1883 as Osterley and Spring Grove on the predecessor to the District Line - the District Railway.

A quick tour reveals the archways to the outside (now bricked up) and the ticket office windows which are similarly blocked off.

However, the original platforms remain in place and can be seen from the windows of the trains which still pass by on their way to London or Heathrow.

Just as in the modern day, stations were usually home to shops and Osterley and Spring Grove had some interesting ones over the years including H Butler in the early 1920s which provided dairy produce from the cows at nearby Osterley Park - and Snell’s in the 1930s owned by a Miss Snell who used to own a parrot and eventually married the station master.

How Osterley Bookshop looked in 1924 when it was Butler's
How Osterley Bookshop looked in 1934 when it was Snell's
 

Osterley and Spring Grove closed in 1934 when the art deco building designed by Stanley Heaps opened beside the Great West Road where it remains to this day.

During the war years it was given over as a gun emplacement to soldiers from Hounslow Barracks after it was gifted to the military by the wife of the Earl of Jersey who’s family owned Osterley House until it was given to the National Trust.

Tony the co-owner of Osterley Bookshop
 

Flash forward 33 years to where our heroes Tony and Pennie enter the story, the year is 1967 and the couple are fresh out of art school and looking for a place to open a studio.

Tony said: “We were both local and looking for somewhere to do graphic design and photography.

“We were old hippies, into underground stuff that was probably pretty scary for the area.

“We thought the station was very cool, but when we went to buy it the council at the time insisted it had to be used as a shop.

“We ended up buying a load of books in a jumble sale and when they sold we used the money to buy more and things kind of snowballed from there.”

While sales remain steady,Tony admits you couldn’t make a living purely running the bookshop, but their recent listings of their rarer and more valuable titles on the internet has added another string to the shop’s bow.

He said: “We enjoy what we do and even hire students as Saturday staff who like working here because they can get on with assignments in between serving customers.

“People wonder how we even find a particular book amongst all this jumble, but we have got clearly marked sections and there is actually a filing system so we can usually put our hands on the right title fairly quickly!

“It is crowded on the shelves and that is why we have the September sale to free up some room and start adding the new stock that, due to our addiction to searching out off-beat titles, has been piling up in our back rooms.”

The crowded, but ordered, interior of Osterley Bookshop
 

While he admits shops like his are in a unique position, he still does not know whether they will survive the technological onslaught from Kindles and other electronic reading devices.

He said: “Obviously they are vastly different markets. I never saw them coming to be honest and don’t think they could ever compare to a real book - but that is just my opinion.

“It’s not an intellectual argument because you have to admit that they do what they do very well and,surprisingly, we’ve found that many of our younger customers have come to reading through these devices and the shop has shown and upturn on the back of them.

“But you can’t deny the march of technology has created a real problem for the high street, it’s changed beyond all recognition in the years we’ve been open.

“What we do have in our favour is that our books are second hand, rare or out-of-print so people get pleasantly surprised by what they find – often not realising how many books are no longer in print on their pet subjects.”

On the subject of which authors get his own blood racing, Tony cites the thrillers penned by Eric Ambler and said: “They’re what used to be called ‘a rattling good read’ and give a wonderful picture of Britain in pre-war days.”

Finally we ask about the fact the owners seem happy to leave customers to browse unsupervised - doesn’t that lead to situations like in the Hugh Grant film Notting Hill when a thief attempts to hide the Cudogan Guide to Bali down his trousers?

Tony admits: “Yes we have had a tiny percentage of books stolen but we always work on the principle that anyone who steals from us will then have the kind of bad karma which sees them punished for their actions another day!”

The bookshop is open 9.30-5.30 seven days a week and can be contacted on 0208 5606206