Still Open For Business. These photos of severely decaying retail premises come from a visit I made yesterday to Stanley, Co. Durham. I was there for Saturday morning Confession at St. Joseph's, a magnificent 19th Century church with a beautifully decorated and dark Lady Chapel which is lit only by the small number of votive candles the elderly faithful choose to pay their 20p for. Parish Priest Father Joe Park is a kindly old priest with not many teeth and whose long winter clerical cloak shows under the velvet confessional curtain hem.
Despite these shops crumbling state they somehow remain open and stand for me as hopeful counter-cultural beacons amid the chain-store strangulation of our land. First pictured is an independent Estate Agent with nailed on plastic letters on its flaking fascia which must have come from a DIY store circa 1976. Please note the hand-written "Can't Get A Mortgage?" notice which you'd never see in a high-street Halifax branch. Next shop is Sandra's Ladies Hairdressers, a shop so unkempt I was certain it must be closed until I watched a head-scarved old lady walk inside and then saw a flourescent light flicker on through its exceedingly grubby net curtains. Last photo is of Beamish Street's garage with a unique weed-filled bathtub as it's welcoming feature.