Independent shops on a County Durham street have banded together in an attempt to boost business.

Those who have businesses on Fore Bondgate in Bishop Auckland have showcased the wide range of products they have to sell. 

Over the last two decades high street brands like Wilko, Woolworths, Boots, and numerous bank branches have all closed in Bishop Auckland - leading to empty shops, which has had a knock-on effect on independent retailers.

This is combined with the temporary closure of Bishop Auckland bus station to allow for renovation work - which has seen bus passengers arrive into the town from a different route, instead of arriving next to Fore Bondgate and delivering football for businesses on the street. 

But it's not all doom and gloom for Bishop Auckland - with the continued redevelopment, backed by philanthropist Jonathan Ruffer and Durham County Council - which has seen the Spanish Gallery and Faith Museum open, and other plans are afoot. 

An abandoned shoe shop and pub on Newgate Street has recently been converted into the Jord restaurant, which is run by Masterchef contestant Mike Bartley. 

Elsewhere in the town, a new STACK development is being built.

The Masonic Hall on Victoria Avenue is undergoing conversion to become 10 apartments with an art space and office on the ground floor and is due to open in 2025. 

The scheme is part of a £12 million joint initiative between regeneration charity, The Auckland Project; Durham County Council and private sector developers.

As part of a push for more footfall on the street, a website has been created to show shoppers the number of shops, restaurants and cafes there are on Fore Bondgate. 

We have shone a light on some of the businesses on Fore Bondgate, with the full range of shops available to look at on the Fore Bondgate website that has been created.

Myra Smith, who manages House of SmudgeMyra Smith, who manages House of Smudge (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

House of Smudge

On Fore Bondgate for six years, the shop is managed by Myra Smith - offering limited edition art pieces by J W Smith; Myra's son. 

The shop offers a gallery and art piece shop - but also offers an online store. 

The man behind the shop is John William Smith, who is known by friends and family as 'Smudge'.

His work is inspired by the local history and culture of living and working in the North East of England, in a bygone era. 

Mother and daughter Carol and Laura Knight, who own Tinkers TreasuresMother and daughter Carol and Laura Knight, who own Tinkers Treasures (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

Tinkers Treasures

Set up by mother and daughter Carol and Laura Knight - this place offers homeware items and clothing - giving a cosy scene. 

As the name suggests, the store offers a large collection of treasures everything from Home Decor, Sterling Silver Jewellery, Vintage inspired Pocket watches, Handmade Soap, Home Fragrance, New Baby Gifts, Ladies Accessories, Various Themed items plus much more!

As well as having the shop, the business also attends various markets, festivals and country shows across the North East.

Lynn Talbot's Bondgate GalleryLynn Talbot's Bondgate Gallery (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

Bondgate Gallery

On Fore Bondgate for 16 years, the shop, run by Lynn Talbot, specialises in art prints, framing and specialist pieces by artist Eric Thompson.

In 2008, together with his daughter Lynn, Eric opened his very first gallery in Bishop Auckland - and they haven't looked back.

As well as the shop and gallery, the pair have an online shop, which contains over 1000 pieces of art. 

 Mark Murray, who owns DC GiftsMark Murray, who owns DC Gifts (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

DC Gifts

Having only opened on Fore Bondgate recently, DC Gifts appeared on the street in August last year, specialising in spiritual and scented products.

As well as the shop, Mark visits various markets across the region to sell his products - and has helped to set up a website for Fore Bondgate traders.

Mark has lots of products inside his shop but has extended several of his products outside as well.

everley Beal, who has been on the street for 17 years with her store Beverley'severley Beal, who has been on the street for 17 years with her store Beverley's (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)


A staple of Bishop Auckland, Beverley's has been trading in the town for over 30 years - and has been on Fore Bondgate for 17 years, after moving from the Newgate Centre. 

Selling women's clothing, this is a popular choice for shoppers on this independent street. 

Under the ownership of Beverley Beal, this shop has stood the test of time in Bishop Auckland, and continues to welcome customers, both locals and visitors. 

Debbie Fasciano, who runs Gregg B&ADebbie Fasciano, who runs Gregg B&A (Image: NORTHERN ECHO)

Gregg Bros

One of the most historic businesses in Bishop Auckland, this place has been here since 1920 - serving the people of the town. 

As a sandwich shop, this place also offers baked goods, cakes, and hot drinks, where you can sit in or take out. 

The current owner of the shop, Debbie Fasciano, took over in 2011, and welcomes customers in with open arms.

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Sam Zair's Cafe

The oldest family-run café in town, this place is a staple in Bishop Auckland for breakfast, lunch, or just a snack. 

Owned by Sam and Lesley Zair - this place is rated highly by customers and is sought out by visitors to the town. 

It's a must-visit if you get the chance to venture down Fore Bondgate.