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Family-owned Darlington picture framers shut up shop after 130 years
A FOURTH-GENERATION family-run picture framers is preparing to shut up shop after more than 100 years.
For the past 130 years, the Dodds family have run their picture framing business from their Tubwell Row shop in Darlington.
But now, having taken the helm more than 50 years ago, current owner Tony Dodds is preparing to retire and close the family business.
He is expecting to shut the shop at the end of September, but the 68-year-old will continue to work on orders from his home in Catterick, North Yorkshire.
“The business has been very successful,” he said. “We used to do a roaring trade during the old market days but we offer a luxury service and unfortunately, during the recession, luxury items are the first to go.
“I could also do with a rest.”
Set up in the mid 1800s by Mr Dodds’ great-grandfather, William Dodds, the business was run out of a workshop in Kendrew Street, in Darlington, before it outgrew the site and moved to Tubwell Row in 1884.
“They were offered two sites, this one and what is now Lloyds bank,” explained Mr Dodds. “They chose this one because, at the time, Darlington was expanding towards the railway station.
“I feel very proud to be part of this business; I think we must be one of the oldest businesses in Darlington.
“It has been fascinating, some of the things that we frame are really beautiful - original oil paintings, watercolours and old maps going back to the 1600s.”
As well as bespoke picture framing, the family business also offers painting restoration and sells antique maps and sporting pictures.
Before shutting up his shop, Mr Dodds has enlisted the help of antiques expert, David Harper, to help auction off thousands of his unopened and unused picture frame mouldings, some of which have not been opened since before the First World War.
The popular TV personality said: “I was absolutely gobsmacked when I saw them; I had never seen anything like it.
“It’s hard to believe when you look at the frames that they're so old - they look like they were made yesterday.
“To have bought that amount of frames in those times just shows how well the business was doing.”
Mr Harper will send the frames to auctions in Darlington, Derby and London where they have already attracted attention from potential buyers.
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