Family run village shop to close after 150 years
By Martin Paul - Senior Reporter
WOODLAND is to lose the village shop that has served its community for almost 150 years at the end of the month.
JR Blackett & Sons has been run by the same family at the same site for four generations. Dorothy Dowson, who took over from her dad Dennis Blackett, spent 60 years serving the village, having started working there aged 16 after qualifying as a shorthand typist. She said: “I got a job at Bishop Auckland but I turned it down. It is not like it used to be. We used to sell agricultural goods and we had a warehouse at the back. We sold methylated spirits, paraffin and creosote.”
Her sister, Audrey Bainbridge, who also worked at the shop as well as another family owned shop at Butterknowle, added: “I can remember sugar coming in a big bag and we used to weigh it out. The lard and butter came in large slabs. It is totally different now.”
The shop also served as a post office and a newsagent for the village and surrounding area. The Post Office closed about five years ago, but it continued to sell newspapers as well as everyday household goods and food.
Mrs Bainbridge said: “We used to collect the papers from the goods yard at Cockfield Station. My dad would sort the papers and I would deliver them in Woodland on my way home. My son, Stewart, bought the waiting rooms at Cockfield Station and changed it into a bungalow – he still lives there.”
The village has changed dramatically over the years, with more people moving in, the sisters said. Mrs Dowson said: “I once knew everyone who lived in every house.”
Mrs Dowson had a fall in November last year and the shop has since been managed by her sister, but she hopes to come in before the closure to greet customers.
The 76-year-old said: “I have missed the people. But I haven’t missed the long days and long nights.”
The shop’s last trading day will be Saturday, January 30.
Galgate News, in Barnard Castle, can arrange delivery of the Teesdale Mercury for customers after the shop’s closure. Call 01833 690355. A digital version of the Mercury is also available. Visit www.teesdalemercury.co.uk/subscribe/