Richard Holden, Member of Parliament for North West Durham, last Friday opened the new Swordmakers’ Room at The Glass & Art Gallery on Medomsley Road in Consett.

Named after Shotley Bridge’s famous sword-making history, Maralyn and Ron O’Keefe of the Glass & Art Gallery welcomed Richard Holden MP as he unveiled the new significant extension to their shop and gallery.

The business has succeeded for years as a small, family-run high street shop, showcasing local artists and crafters, offering products from County Durham and the North East. It is also home to the studio of internationally renowned stained-glass artist Maralyn O’Keefe.

With a selection on display that has previously appealed to a particular demographic, the family invited Richard Holden MP, wielding a sword to cut the ribbon, to open their new display room with products with a broader, more masculine appeal, with the view at least to make buying gifts for men easier.

Commenting Richard Holden, MP for North West Durham said: “It is fantastic to visit The Glass & Art Gallery again. It is a wonderful local shop that celebrates all that is best from local artists in North West Durham and the North East.

“It is exactly the sort of local family business that I want to see thrive in our towns and villages and I will do all I can to support and look beyond Covid and to our County of Culture bid.

“I hope that this expansion into a new range of products helps them thrive for many years to come. I would encourage all local people to visit this fantastic local shop, especially in the run-up to Christmas.”

Commenting, Maralyn and Ron said: “This is an exciting new era for the Gallery as we are effectively relaunching the business for the 21st century.

“We chose to name the new extension “The Swordmakers’ Room” as it recalls the pre-industrial heritage of the region and the skilled artisans of Derwentside, without whom Consett almost certainly wouldn’t have the rich history it does today.

“We have been very impressed by the work of Richard Holden as our local MP – he is obviously very hardworking and very visible in Consett – and we were, therefore, delighted to welcome him to open this new section of the Gallery.”

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