Avebury has lost one of its oldest shops. It is sad when any village loses one of its attractions but as Robert and Jeremy Black have run Avebury Antiques for over thirty five years the loss is both part of our fabric and part of our history.
It was, I suppose inevitable. Both men are in that time of life where the years grow thin as wheat in a dry spring and since Jeremy slipped and broke his hip during January’s snows, opening times at Black’s Antiques have been erratic; Robert more often than not keeping to the backroom of the shop next to the stove and the kettle. Those in the know understood he might be brought out into the front parlour with a firm knock at the door, but the casual visitor was never so bold. At least, so Robert mentioned to me, the quiet gave him a chance to catch up on his reading and he politely enquired how my own work was going. I assured him he had plenty more years left to read whatever I produced and this seemed to give him some comfort.
Meantime, Jeremy, the senior of the two brothers by some two years, continues to convalesce at their sister’s in Bournemouth, but it is hoped he will return soon and that both brothers will remain in the village. They are the leading lights in the pub dominoes team and our ranking in North Wiltshire will greatly suffer should both take their ‘bones’ to the south coast.
The windows of the former antiques shop are a sorry sight and worse for being so central in the village. Given the peculiar bend in the road from Swindon it is almost the first sight the motorist has of Avebury and its ghostly windows lend the place a dilapidated, uncared for appearance that is far from the truth. We all hope someone takes it over before the main tourist season. There is talk of a café, even, heaven forfend, one of those ghastly coffee houses, but I scarce think it will find the trade nine months of the year. More promisingly, The Henge Shop may take over the premises, though of course that will only leave a vacancy at their present establishment in the High Street. I suppose I look at it and think a bookshop specialising in history and local matters might do well, though as I am quite aware that no one with any business acumen ever chose to be a poet so perhaps I am optimistic!
If no one takes on the premises it does not bode well for the future of the village.