People

Read all about it: Victoria lives the dream with her sanctuary for people who treasure books

Victoria Sturgess, Owner, Black Pug Books: "I’ve always loved books. To me they’re miniature works of art." Picture: Dorset Biz News.

By Staff Reporter [email protected]

Published: May 28, 2021 | Updated: 29th May 2021

Victoria Sturgess has a simple message.

Don’t give up on your dream.

The 73-year-old may have enjoyed the most amazing career in film and TV in the UK and abroad.

From rubbing shoulders with the likes of The Who, The Kinks and P.J. Proby to working on pop videos, including Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, and being a key member of Sir David Frost’s production team at LWT (London Weekend Television).

The transatlantic TV star even lent Victoria his car for her wedding.

But throughout, Victoria, a lover of books from almost the moment she could read, nursed one simple ambition.

So, when the time came to bid farewell to the all-consuming world of TV, film and magazine production after an impressive 35-year career, latterly as a TV producer, it was time to turn her dream into reality.

To open her own secondhand book shop.

Not just selling pre-loved, and sometimes very rare, books but creating a community hub where people could meet, enjoy a cup of tea – or even a glass of wine – and sit and read before buying a book.

A sanctuary for people who value books as one of the greatest treasures in life.

Black Pug Books opened for business in 2012 in the front room of Victoria’s home in West Borough, Wimborne.

She’d moved to the town from Winchester after falling for the historic property, parts of which date back to 1740.

Around 3,000 books are displayed floor to ceiling.

Opening hours are Thursday, Friday and Saturday 10am to 4pm with a later closing time of 6pm in the summer.

Victoria is also happy to open at other times if contacted.

If a title is not available then her pool of experts around the country can almost certainly locate it.

For Victoria, who has two daughters, Kate and Hannah, and two grandchildren, Algie and Tinks, it really is a dream come true.

She said: “I absolutely love it.

“I’ve always loved books.

“As a child growing up it was books and ponies.

“It’s not just the content but often the illustrations.

“To me they’re miniature works of art.

“You can lose yourself totally in a book and, especially during the last year, reading really is the best way to travel.

“In many ways it’s like a community centre where my regulars drop in.

“I wanted it to feel like a club and that’s how it’s turned out.”

Victoria stocks a wide range of out-of-print titles including children’s, art and architecture, history, military, foreign and UK topography and fiction.

But she also sells vintage magazines, cigarette cards, vinyl records – LPs and singles – as well as  original newspaper front pages capturing key events, from the assassination of John F. Kennedy to the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill.

The past year has been very tough, especially for her regulars.

Victoria said: “I know people were missing me.

“I was closed but if people contacted me then I was very happy to pass a book out or make a suggestion of something they might like.

“I also put together bags of paperbacks with five for a fiver.

“I’d like to think it helped people get through a very difficult time.”

Victoria said that since re-opening last month business had been ‘full on’ for the first two weeks before dipping slightly.

However, talk of a boom in staycations seemed to be borne out by visits from new customers who were from outside the area but staying locally.

She said: “I’m hopeful that we’re going to have a good summer.

“Let’s be thankful for the fact that we’ve come through it and we can shop again.

“Hopefully, we can move forward to happier times while being aware that we’re very fortunate.

“I certainly feel that way and also very thankful to be doing something I adore.”

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