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A Victorian building in the centre of Morpeth which for many years was the home of Louis Johnson Auctioneers is re-opening as The Northumberland Auction House and its first 600-lot sale takes place on Saturday, August 5. Partners in this new business, husband and wife Graham and Kathryn Trueman and their friend, Adam Barr, took over the Bridge Street building earlier this year and while leaving the atmospheric first floor saleroom largely unaltered, they have installed wi-fi in order to offer customers the chance to bid and follow the auction action live online. They plan to hold monthly antiques and collectables sales and in the future occasional speciality sales. Graham said: “We want people to find our auctions good fun. Our aim is not to run a standard auction house run by people in bow ties who are full of themselves but for our sales to be fresh and friendly. Our first sale has everything from paintings and ceramics to furniture, fabrics and LPs, and our possible star lot is a framed, limited edition signed Picasso print.”

Chris Green of Longframlington butchers R. Green & Son, is celebrating a triple victory achieved at the National Meat Products Awards 2017 Meatup Exhibition held in Milton Keynes. The family business which was established in1888 won three national gold awards for its home- cured bacon, farmhouse sausage and chicken curry pies. Chris also collected a silver award for his pork and apple burgers and two bronze awards for his steak pies and sausage rolls. He said: “It is important to keep abreast of our customers ever-changing needs but it is equally important to keep producing fine traditional fare. I’m really proud of our products and our staff who all contribute to our award-winning success.”

Artist and gallery owner Ben Haslam has literally been digging into history beneath his Hallgate Galleries in the heart of old Hexham. After moving into the 17th century property nine years ago, he became increasingly intrigued by the history of the building and what might lie in its basement. Using the skills of local builder David Rosthbotham and stonemason Nick Rowsell, who had to remove one hundred year old limewash that covered the stone walls by hand, a stone vaulted room has been revealed which Ben believes was used as a malting kiln for ale making as far back as Medieval times. Now this atmospheric space beneath a segmented stone arched ceiling enclosed by thick medieval walls has been fully restored and transformed into a function room for music performances, poetry, history talks and art classes. The Vault, which opened earlier this year, has a licenced bar, seating for up to 45 people, stage lighting, a professional sound system and a sound room where performances can be recorded. Ben said: “This is one of the oldest continuously used business premises in the town and I’m very pleased to give it a new role. It can be hired by arts organisations or by individuals for private functions. When we launch the Hallgate Galleries winter art exhibition which will have the theme of art inspired by the sea, shipbuilding and fishermen, we will use The Vault for a performance of seafaring songs by the Shantymen group.”

Since Gemma Ash opened the Ultimate Skin Clinic at the Milkhope Centre, Blagdon, four years ago, the range of beauty treatments and skin therapies she and her team can offer has grown rapidly. Now, in addition to a variety of skin, body and nail treatments, award-winning facial treatments, and anti-aging therapies, this independent salon now offers non-surgical facelifts, skin tightening, instant inch loss using ultrasound cavitation and sports massage. Clinic owner Gemma, a former midwife, supervises the medical-based treatments and her manageress Claire Holmes leads an experienced team of beauty therapists. She said: “Each product and service is carefully selected to give the best results and demand for our services is growing month by month.”

Skilled furniture maker Ian Sharp, a craftsman with over 35 years woodworking experience has established a new business, Twists ‘n’ Turns Woodcrafts, in a 800 square feet workshop at the Whitehouse Farm Centre between Stannington and Morpeth. He makes bespoke items of furniture for any room in the home using quality pine, oak, ash and mahogany from sustainable sources including dining tables and coffee tables in a variety of styles. He said: “I am currently making an elegant Edwardian-style dressing table, a dining table in the 1970s G plan style and a range of rustic, chunky tables. I’ve worked with wood all my life and love all styles of furniture.” Ian also offers a personal joinery service to provide built-in furniture, wood flooring and radiator covers. He welcomes visitors to his workshop – Unit 4A – but recommends they make an appointment by telephoning 07789-728252.