One of the reasons I was inspired to start this blog was the initiative, entrepreneurialism, creativity and sheer get-up-and-go I’ve encountered as a member of a Facebook group called Lyme Bay Ladies, and Herringbone is a perfect microcosm of all those qualities.
Started five years ago as a pop-up shop purely to fill an empty property for a few weeks in the run-up to Christmas, it is still going strong, and still adhering to its central aim of supporting the local community and economy by providing an outlet for many artists and makers in the immediate area. It is run as a cop-operative, and since its initial launch when there were 14 involved, has settled down to 4 key members.
Anna is a photographer, and provides interesting vintage jewellery; Jill is the seamstress and makes home furnishings, hat, bags etc; Debbie knits the most beautiful items from lovely yarns, and Teresa is an ex art teacher, who paints, makes silver jewellery, does mosaics and makes the quaint little driftwood cottages. They also have a small army of local artists and makers, producing a hugely varied range of cards, paintings, ceramics, decorative items, hand-made soaps, and all sorts of knitwear, sculpture & jewellery.
Chatting to Teresa today, she said it’s very interesting manning the shop (they take it in turns), as you just never know who will pop in, and what for. You can have a sunny, busy day with just a few buying customers, or a quiet day where someone comes in and buys an armful!
It’s a great place to buy presents for people, as they are guaranteed something truly one-off, and the prices are amazingly reasonable, especially when you compare them to some of the mass-produced ‘craft’ items available in some other outlets. I’m sure some of the high quality, specialist skills and techniques on show would command twice the price in many other areas or settings. There is a strong emphasis on local, so you will find plenty of beach themes, Colmers Hill, Jurassic Coast scenery etc, but there is also a much wider appeal.
I must confess to a vested interest in this post, as I have just started selling my hand-printed cards at Herringbone, and I must say that as a maker, shops like these are so important. It is interesting how many of the artists and craftspeople are women, and I’m sure this is because outlets like this give a very valuable opportunity to people who are trying to tie in earning some money around looking after a family, returning after time away from work or maybe trying to make semi-retirement work. If there are any candle-makers out there, Teresa would love to hear from you, as it’s something she feels is missing from their current range.
If you want to visit, you will find Herringbone up the hill towards the Lyme Regis end of Charmouth, near the Royal Oak pub and the library (now community-run as ‘Charmouth Central’). You can park on the road if you’re lucky, or if not, in the car park off Lower Sea Lane, for 30p for 1 hour – bargain!
I think most local people who come to Charmouth drive straight through and head for the beach, but please stop and have a look around, as there is much more here than you’d think at first glance. There is a Nisa supermarket, a bakery, a butchers, two hair salons, a pharmacy, Morgan’s (an incredible Alladin’s Cave of a hardware store), a fish & chip/ pizza restaurant & takeaway, cafes, Breeze gift shop, Abode (flooring, interiors and fantastic gifts including hand-made), a camping shop, a fossil shop, a vintage clothing shop, a beach supplies shop, a post office and just in case you REALLY love it, an estate agents! Add in the campsites with their bars, restaurants, gyms, pools and the Monday Market, and there’s not a lot you can’t tick off your list in Charmouth.
It doesn’t have the old-world quirkiness of Lyme Regis or the ‘Broadchurch Factor’ of West Bay, but the authenticity of Charmouth grows on you, and if you ever need a unique present, card, home decoration, baby gift, piece of artwork or just a nice browse around some lovely things, I can’t recommend Herringbone highly enough.