Hallows ...and goodbye

POTTERMANIA hit the North-East for the final time last night – as hundreds of fans lined the streets to get their hands on the final instalment from Hogwarts.

POTTERMANIA hit the North-East for the final time last night – as hundreds of fans lined the streets to get their hands on the final instalment from Hogwarts.

Hordes of muggles queued for as long as 29 hours for a copy of the last book in JK Rowling’s phenomenon Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows ahead of the midnight launch.

Fans waiting in Newcastle last night said they couldn’t wait to discover Harry’s fate – but some admitted they would find it difficult not to skip straight to the end to discover whether he lives or dies after what promises to be a thunderous confrontation with his parents’ killer, Lord Voldemort.

They included schoolboy Alexander Strettle, who persuaded his father to join him at 6.45pm – on Thursday – in the queue. The determined 10-year-old parked himself outside Waterstones in Newcastle, 29 hours and 15 minutes before the seventh book in the series went on sale.

Alexander, of Wallsend, North Tyneside, a Monkseaton Middle School pupil, arrived more than 11 hours before the second pair in the queue – brother and sister Peter and Niamh Johnson, aged 15 and 13, from Kingston Park.

At 9pm last night, the shop reopened its doors to allow the fans, who were lining up around Brunswick Place past the Virgin store on Northumberland Street, to come in out of the cold – with security staff standing firm in front of the new books. Staff, dressed as characters from the books, were joined by minstrels and wizards, while the fans – young and old – played the Potter Puzzles and Slytherin sudoku.

Sporting the T-shirt he won at Waterstones in 2001 when he was first in the queue, Alexander said: “I have read all the books, many more than once, and I can’t wait to read the last one.”

Mother Cassandra Scott, a poet, took over from father Daniel Strettle at lunchtime yesterday after catching the train from Oxfordshire to join the traditional family Potter outing.

She said: “Alex was reading Harry Potter from a very young age. The launches are really special. There’s a real party atmosphere out in the street every time.”

Mr Strettle, 55, a supply teacher who left boxes of food and drink with his son, said: “He pestered me for so long to come and queue that I eventually said yes.”

At 11.30pm the fans retook their places in the queue for the big countdown, before the tills started ringing at 12.01am, when excited Alexander was the first to buy the new book.

Waterstones events coordinator Kristine Elliott said: “When the last book was released, the two Newcastle shops took the most reservations in the company and hopefully we’re going for that again.”

Major retailers have slashed their Harry Potter prices in a wave of discounting which means the new book drop is available for as little as £4.99.

Morrisons will limit its £4.99 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows sales to one copy per shopper.

Asda will sell a maximum two copies per customer for £5 each. Tesco is also selling the book at £5 to shoppers who spend at least £50. Otherwise it will charge £10. The recommended retail price is £17.99.

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