County Durham firms are a glass act for Durham Cathedral

First published in Business News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by

COUNTY DURHAM design specialists have helped to replicate 11th century manuscripts into stunning new panes of glass at a world heritage site. 

Newton Aycliffe-based Echo Graphics joined forces with Creative Glass, of Stockton, to produce the six-foot tall semi-circular windows, costing a total of £25,000.

They now make up part of Durham Cathedral’s £1.2m makeover of its Undercroft, to include a new coffee shop and gift store.

The new panes of glass – four sections, each made up of three panes – were made using specialist low-iron, water-clear glass to enable it to transmit LED lights through it and enhance the artwork, taken from a 1,000-year-old copy copy of the Bible.

The six-month project has been a labour of love for Echo’s creative director Johnny Woods, originally from Durham.

Echo Graphics has recently relocated from Consett to the HUB Workspace on Aycliffe Business Park, and Johnny said: “Being a local guy from Durham, we were very proud to work on such a prestigious project.

“Durham Cathedral is one of the most important buildings in the North-East, possibly the country, so it was an absolute pleasure and honour to take on.”

Tony Campbell, managing director of Creative Glass, said it was important to maintain an authentic feel to the artwork while also giving it a classy, modern look.

He said: “Because LED lighting was going to be used to transmit the artwork, we used a low-iron water-clear glass, which unlike ordinary glass doesn’t have any impurities in it, so this enabled tie etchwork to be picked up and shine through.

“We were trying to remain faithful to the original manuscripts. We were trying to give them an aged, distressed look to maintain that old-world, authentic feel.”

Durham Cathedral’s business support manager Vanessa Ward has been responsible for the £1.2m refurbishment of the Undercroft, and she’s delighted with the outcome.

“This is the first time in over a hundred years that the full 13 arches of the Undercroft are on display,” she said.

“One of the wonderful things about the glass pains is that they’re actually drawings from Manuscripts that are held by and belong to the Cathedral.

“Most of them come from the Saint-Calais or Carilef Bible, which is about the 11th century, so we felt this was a wonderful way of highlighting the archways, without cluttering them, so it’s not just about coming into a shop, it’s about coming into a magnificent architectural space.”

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