Shopping change caught on camera

Images of traditional high street shops have been captured on camera in a Northumberland market town which is due to undergo a multi-million pound retail transformation.

Images of traditional high street shops have been captured on camera in a Northumberland market town which is due to undergo a multi-million pound retail transformation.

Amateur photographer Mark Welfare, 43, has trained his lens on the old-fashioned charms of shopping in Morpeth, amid growing concerns that town centres across England are becoming increasingly homogenous.

His pictures focus on old-style bookshops, butchers, ironmongers and cheese makers - and ask local people whether they want to retain such traditions in the face of the rapid spread of national retail chains. On Monday, Mark's work will go on public display in a two-week photographic exhibition in the town's Chantry Museum.

It comes at a topical time, with work due to start next year on a £30m redevelopment scheme which will radically transform town centre shopping facilities in Morpeth.

Mark, a consultant gastro-enterologist at North Tyneside Hospital, who has lived in Morpeth for five years, said: "The exhibition asks people what they want to see in Morpeth by saying this is what these traditional shops offer.

"Morpeth is a really good place to live and the idea that it might just become a conglomerate of national retailers seems a shame. The shopping experience that I want is to walk around, talk to people who are friendly and get good quality local produce. Many people lament the fact that towns in the UK have lost their local businesses and high streets have become homogenous. The exhibition asks, do we want shops that have a sense of individuality and history or just chain stores?"

Chantry manager Dawn Goodwill-Evans said: "This is a really interesting exhibition which includes some of the character and shops which keep Morpeth's traditional market town image alive."

Journalists

David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer