Photographer compiling pictorial record of Blackhall’s ‘uniqueness’

Just one of Cathy Ruocco's images from her Blackhall collection
Just one of Cathy Ruocco's images from her Blackhall collection

A KEEN photographer who is passionate about her roots is compiling a pictorial record of a former mining village and its people.

Cathy Ruocco is working on a photography project using Blackhall as its subject.

As well as snapping images of the local environment, including familiar landmarks, scenes and street names, she also wants to take photographs of its people.

Cath lives in Hesleden and works as a team support officer at the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton.

She said: “What I want to do is create a record of Blackhall and its people, including the different street names, the businesses, and what happens throughout the year.

“I also want to show the uniqueness of Blackhall.

“A lot of pit villages have suffered greatly since the closure of the pits but I think Blackhall has survived, possibly due to the fact it has the Coast Road running through the middle of it. “Middle Street itself is always quite busy and the majority of the shops are occupied and have been there for a while.”

Cath’s late father Albert Anson was born in Hesleden but also lived in Blackhall and he was a miner at Blackhall colliery.

He was finished at the pit in 1977 after an accident at the coalface when a wagon ran over his foot and he retired on medical grounds.

Cath said: “People often portray these villages as being on their uppers, they home in on the broken windows, graffiti and boarded-up houses.

“But there are scenes like this even in places like Paris, London and elsewhere.

“Yes there are boarded-up buildings and graffiti in Blackhall but there are also green spaces, lovely buildings, and interesting things to photograph.”

Cath, who has been compiling her project for a year, thinks its will probably be another year before this scheme is complete.

She aims to exhibit some of the pieces later in the year to show progress.

Eventually she hopes to showcase the work and put a book together.

She added: “I would like to be able to take some photos on the allotments and Welfare Park so if anyone is involved with them that would be great.

“It would also be nice to take some photos of the people that live in Blackhall, anyone who would like to be included, even if its just a photo of them sat in their back yard or stood by their front door, I would like to hear from them.”

Anyone who wants to be part of Cath’s project can email