Little Gems amongst the Coal Dust

bijou eight

bijou four

bijou one

bijou three

bijou two

bijour five

Meaning of the word persistent…………..

  1. Continuing firmly or obstinately in an opinion or action in spite of difficulty or opposition
  2. Continuing to exist or occur over a prolonged period

Whichever meaning you pick, as I think both are equally suitable, persistent is certainly a good word to describe Blackhall.

It was a word used by Ruth, proprietor of Bijou, as we chatted about the village.  And Blackhall is a survivor.  It seems that whatever has been thrown at it over the years it picks itself up, dusts itself down and gets on with it.

And its lifeline, or beating heart, is Middle Street.  It has an eclectic mix of shops running along it.  Some have been around for a lot of years too.  And Bijou is one of them, its name the perfect accompaniment to the tiny shop.  As I mentioned earlier Ruth is its proprietor.   She rents the shop off Anne, owner of Snipz, the hairdressers, next door.  Ruth has been running her shop for 13 years.  An unlucky number for some but not for Blackhall.  Ruth was born in Peterlee but has lived in Blackhall for most of her life.  Some of the community spirit has gone, she told me, due to the terraced houses being used mainly for rental but she enjoys living there.

And her shop is fabulous. The walls are lined with books of all descriptions.  Fiction galore, all arranged in their relevant genres.   Non-fiction delights can be found on the shelves too.  There are toys, children’s clothes, 45’s, LP’s, glass display cabinets with lots of lovely glassware in them.  There’s not a lot of room to manoeuvre but it’s a great place to explore.

I even bagged a lovely little book whilst I was there too, Turner’s Visions of Rome. Printed in 1925 it has some lovely plates of Turner’s work from his tour in Italy.

Even though my dad died long before the shop opened he would have loved it.  He was an avid reader, he loved his books (most of which now sit on my bookshelf at home)   I can just see him diligently scanning all the books, looking for a good thriller to read.

I will be going back soon, to rummage amongst the 45’s (I already have my eye on some Dave Clark Five singles), and to take more photographs.





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