Bookshop owner Kim was honest, friendly trader

THE founder of three well-known book shops has died.

Kim Francombe
Kim Francombe

Mary Lorraine Francombe, nee Kimber, who was known as Kim, died on June 14 after spending her final few weeks at St Barnabas House Hospice.

She was surrounded by family when she died and is survived by her daughters and grandchildren Simon, Victoria, Susie and Sofia. She also had a great grand-daughter, Elise.

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Kim, 81, of Hayling Rise, Worthing, is remembered through her three book shops in Worthing, Arundel and Chichester, which continue to thrive.

She was born in Cornwall in 1933 but before the Second World War, the family moved to Plymouth where her father opened a bookshop and stationers.

Kim married Arthur Francombe (known as Frank) in 1951 and the couple had three daughters, Camilla, Angela and Linda.

They settled in Worthing in 1970 and she started finding time for her bibliomania.

Kim started selling books at local antique markets, starting at The Gardeners Arms in Sompting then joining Derek Powell opposite West Worthing station.

In 1971, she took the plunge and opened the first Kim’s Bookshop at No. 1, West Buildings, Worthing.

Quickly, her reputation spread in the community and trade as a friendly, honest, knowledgeable second-hand book seller.

Camilla worked with her mother before starting her own Camilla’s Bookshop, first in Brighton and now in Eastbourne. Lin was involved from a young age and left school to work with Kim and still continues Kim’s Bookshop in Worthing, Arundel and Chichester.

Throughout the years Kim’s Bookshop moved further along West Buildings, from 17, 31 and 33 and finally to the famous address 17-19 Crescent Road, which was stocked with 75,000 books.

Kim and Frank bought the house next door so were involved in day to day bookshop activities. After Frank died in 2000, Kim met Tom Fletcher, who became her loving partner for the rest of her years.

In 2007, the shop had a memorable closing down party for customers and friends and then was demolished to make way for flats.

Kim and Tom moved and had an enjoyable, adventurous life together in Worthing.

Kim’s Bookshop was reopened in Chatsworth Road, Worthing in 2011 by Lin. She said: “I remember my mum as my best friend and someone who could answer all my questions however obscure.

“Second hand bookshops are a ‘rare breed’ now and Kim will be sorely missed by everyone who knew her.”