Cecil Court 'institution' Watkins Books in administration

<p>London&#39;s oldest esoteric bookshop and Cecil Court &#39;institution&#39; Watkins Books has gone into administration with 11 members of staff losing their jobs.</p><p> The bookshop, which was founded in 1897 and moved to Cecil Court in 1901, closed down yesterday (23rd February), following the appointment of administrator Harris Lipman. A sign displayed on the shop&#39;s window read: &quot;Shop Closed Today&quot;.</p><p>Tim Bryars, secretary of the Cecil Court Association, told <em>The Bookseller </em>that it had &quot;taken everybody by surprise&quot;. It is understood that trading had been slower than usual, for a number of reasons including increased online competition and the bad weather. The company was hit by a Capital Gains Tax bill of &pound;500,000, which it had been appealing against. <br /> </p><p>The landlord Gasgoyne Holdings and administrator are now attempting to find a buyer for the business. Bryars urged any interested parties to get in touch.<br /><br />&quot;The landlord is keen to keep Watkins alive and here in Cecil Court,&quot; he said. &quot;We hope a buyer will be found to keep the shop here. . . We think it could be bought as a viable going concern.&quot; Bryars, who described Watkins as &quot;a Cecil Court Institution&quot;, added: &quot;On the sentimental side, we feel Watkins is part of the history of the street.&quot;<br /><br />Cecil Court is owned by Lord Salisbury, and although Bryars said tenants paid &quot;a viable, commercial rent&quot;, he added that the family &quot;want us to be here&quot;.</p><p>Cecil Court is a late Victorian thoroughfare linking Charing Cross Road and St Martin&#39;s Lane. The shopfronts have not been altered in more than a century and the street is home to a number of rare and antiquarian bookshops.&nbsp;</p>