Historic Oxford book chain Blackwell's has been bought by its high street rival Waterstones.

Blackwell’s, which has its flagship store in Broad Street and a total of 18 bookshops, was put up for sale last month after its owners abandoned a plan to hand it to employees.

It is understood that Blackwell's will be allowed to continuing trading under its own brand.

The acquisition by Waterstones will see Blackwell’s in the control of the £38.4bn United States hedge fund Elliott Investment Management, which in 2019 also bought US bookseller, Barnes & Noble.

Read again: Blackwell's is up for sale 

Blackwell's president Toby Blackwell said Waterstones, which also bought family-owned Foyles in 2018, had shown since that it "understands the advantages and benefits of holding diverse iconic bookselling brands".

He added: "I view them not just as a buyer of the business but as the right buyer at the right time.

"This is a positive outcome for Waterstones, Blackwell's and all our customers in the UK and abroad, who will still be able to enjoy the individual nature of what both brands offer."

James Daunt, Waterstones' managing director, said Blackwell's is "amongst the most illustrious names in bookselling, a legacy for which we have the utmost respect".

Read again: Sale of Blackwell's to Waterstones is close to completion

Benjamin Henry Blackwell opened his first bookshop on Broad Street in Oxford on New Year's Day in 1879.

His son Basil joined the company in 1913 and the company first expanded outside Oxford in 1929, when it bought George's in Bristol.

Blackwell's Norrington Room in its Broad Street store was one of the world's largest single displays of books in one room when it was built in 1966.

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The chain expanded its Broad Street shop in 1938 and opened its Norrington Room in 1966.

Built after tunnelling underneath the grounds of Trinity College, Oxford, and named after its then president, Sir Arthur Norrington, it held the world record for the single largest room in the world used to sell books.

Blackwell's started selling books online as well as in store in 1995 and bought Heffers in Cambridge in 1999.

As well as the Broad Street store in Oxford, Blackwell's runs a music shop, an art and poster store, and a branch at the Westgate Centre which opened in 2017.

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