ALTHOUGH Great Ayton Bookshop has been open for only 22 years, Aytonians feel that they will be losing what to them is an important part of their heritage when it closes, since there are no plans to replace or continue it.

When visitors flock to the village for a day's outing, the bookshop is always full of people browsing round this unique Aladdin's cave.

The shop was opened in 1979 by Mrs Hazel O'Sullivan and Mrs Madalyn Jones at 47 High Street and expanded ten years ago to No 53.

Mrs O'Sullivan has lived in the village for 27 years. She looked after the new books, gifts and cards section which specialised in children's books and gifts.

As youngsters, her four now-adult children played among the books and took on Saturday jobs as assistants. Her husband, Dan, often seen in the shop, is a well-known historian who has written several books on local history, including on Great Ayton, and produced a video about the village.

Mrs O'Sullivan has now decided to retire and this has brought about the closure.

Mrs Jones specialises in rare and second-hand books, prints and postcards. For many years she lived in Skelton, where her two children were brought up, but moved to Holmfirth in West Yorkshire because of her husband's job commitments.

She will continue in her specialist book line. At present she has a stand of sculpture books in the pavilion in the Yorkshire sculpture park, one mile off the M1 motorway at Bretton Hall near Wakefield. She will continue to attend book fairs and hopes to develop her business on the internet and will welcome friends, colleagues and customers who visit her.

They both agreed that their partnership had been a happy one and paid tribute and sent thanks to their many and loyal customers. Both had very many happy memories of discussions with customers and of being able to help them to recall titles and events in books. This is something they will miss but felt it was time to move on.

Mrs O'Sullivan and her husband will continue to live in the village.

Mrs Jones will live in Holmfirth but hopes to return frequently to this area to visit her many friends.

Customers will be able to continue to take advantage of the half price closing sale offers and say farewell to Mrs O'Sullivan and Mrs Jones until the bookshop finally closes its doors on March 31