Firm of booksellers and publishers, whose shop at 1 Trinity Street is the oldest bookshop in Cambridge. The tradition of bookselling on this site goes back continuously to 1581, before which it was a bookbinders (Spierinck) from 1537.

Robert Bowes (1835-1919) joined the booksellers and publishers Macmillan & Co., owned by his uncles Daniel and Alexander Macmillan, at 1 Trinity Street Cambridge in 1846. The Macmillan brothers had originated on the Isle of Arran in Scotland, as had Margaret Bowes (Robert’s mother?), while Robert himself came from the mainland nearby. When Alexander Macmillan returned to London to manage that branch of the shop (opened in 1858), and after the publishing side of the business had been concentrated in London (in 1863), he left Robert to manage the Cambridge shop. In 1899 Robert took on his son, George Brimley Bowes (c1875-1946), as a partner, but retained the name ‘Macmillan & Co.’ until 1907 when the shop became ‘Bowes & Bowes’.

Bought out by W. H. Smith in 1953, the firm continued to bear the family name until 1986, when it became Sherratt & Hughes. The latter closed in 1992, after which Cambridge University Press acquired it as its showroom.

The surviving papers of Bowes & Bowes are now held in the Library of the University of Reading.

A comprehensive biography by Laurence Worms 2012 can be found here

Bowes grave
Bowes monuments


Lat Lon : 52.202969, 0.13639099 – click here for location

Parish : St Andrew the Great

See family grave page for more information




University of Reading Bowes & Bowes Archive

By Ian Bent

Robert Bowes (Bowes & Bowes)