A North Tyne heritage centre is ‘coming back stronger’ with a photography exhibition after being closed due to Coronavirus.

Having survived the pandemic, Bellingham Heritage Centre is now back in business along with the expanded Carriages Tea Room on an impressively revamped station platform.

And the centre has finally been able to open an exhibition to mark the 150th anniversary of the postcard and the 130th anniversary of the birth of Bellingham photographer Roderick J. Thompson – albeit a year later than intended.

Stan Owen, heritage centre historian, said: “Almost 40 years after his death in 1982, the name of Roddy Thompson still raises a wistful smile among the older residents of Bellingham. Everyone has a story to tell about him.”

Alongside the exhibition celebrating the popular figure’s work, the book Bellingham Faces and Places, has been published as a companion to the exhibit.

It is one of the three “Covid Collection” books the centre has published during lockdown.

Though the work on display is mostly Thompson’s, Bellingham has a proud history of photographers and is in fact known as the village of Seven Photographers.

Indeed, most Northumbrian villages had a local photographer who would produce studio portraits or local postcards on a small scale.

Between the 1890s and 1980s, John B. Richardson, Henry Waitt, W.P. Collier, Robert W. Hungtinton, Edward Dobbin and Valdemars Blankenburgs were other names who shot photos of the village.

The Heritage Centre has been involved with the publication of 25 books over the last 25 years, including four books written by the late Bill Sewell, historian of the North British Railway and long-standing supporter of the Heritage Centre.

Stan Owen, Heritage Centre historian, said: “The books that we produce are not likely to attract the number of readers expected of a best-selling author like JK Rowling, just as the Heritage Centre will not have the numbers of visitors to the museums of London or the stately homes of the National Trust. But that is not the point, and this is what makes us special.”

“The books are there, they’re ours, and we have produced them for the local community.”

All three of the books from the Covid Collection are available from The Heritage Centre in Bellingham, which is open from Wednesday to Sunday,

Hexham Faces and Places is also vailable at Cogito