An iconic town centre building which was home to a well loved Bishop Auckland family business for decades will reopen its doors today for an exhibition of art and photography.
The Grade II listed building on Newgate Street, previously a house which dates back to c.1800, was until around 25 years ago known as McIntyres – a family run shoe and leather goods retailer which had been based there since the early 1920s.
Since the closure of McIntyres the double fronted premises had been occupied by fashion retailers including Etam and Dorothy Perkins, who vacated the building last October.
Owner Wayne Baister, of Initial Group, agreed to a temporary letting to Durham County Council for use during the Bishop Auckland Food Festival in April while a new retail tenant was found.
Local county councillor Joy Allen was keen to help find other uses for the building, which was listed by Historic England in 1993, while it remained vacant. The idea for the exhibition followed a meeting she had with Bishop Auckland College’s Principal and Chief Executive Natalie Davison-Terranova.
The exhibition, called Regenerate, opens to the public today (Friday) at 11am after a private family showing to college staff, students and their families last night. It will run every day until Friday June 30th from 11am to 3pm weekdays and 12noon to 3pm weekends. It will feature the work of talented students from the art and photography departments.
Following the conclusion of the exhibition the shop will be used throughout July to promote courses starting at the college in September across all curriculum areas and including Level 2 and 3, Higher Education and apprenticeships for school leavers and adult learners. Staff will be available to offer advice and assist with course applications and enrolment.
Councillor Allen, Cabinet Member for Safer Communities, said: “Attracting new and innovative businesses to our high street is a key priority for me, so I was delighted that I could support the college and enable them to take up residency in these iconic premises. It’s a very fitting venue to showcase the talented students’ course work.
“Bishop Auckland is quickly earning a reputation as a cultural centre that encourages and supports new and established creative businesses. I hope that some of the artists exhibiting here consider taking a stall on one of our weekly markets to sell their work and build up a customer base.”
Principal and Chief Executive Natalie Davison-Terranova added: “This is a fantastic building with a fascinating history which so many local people have fond memories of. “
Director of Curriculum, Richard Hinch praised Sharron Tunstall, Julie Scorer and John Alderson who worked tirelessly since last Friday with their learners , culminating in the opening of the Art and Photography exhibition last night. “Julie and Jon have done a fantastic job, and the students were so proud to see their work in a Gallery”.
We are very grateful for the kind support of the county council, town council, Initial Group and Councillor Allen to enable us to hold the exhibition and offer advice and information here over the coming weeks on our huge range of courses starting in September.”