AN historic estate is proving to be the ideal new home for creative businesses on Tyneside.
The Gibside Estate, in Derwent Valley, Gateshead, has transformed its stables and yurts into homes for a range of companies in the region.
The art, craft and design companies which have settled into the stable block and surrounding area of the National Trust park are hoping to take advantage of the 160,000 visitors that come to the estate every year.
One of the first businesses to settle into the estate was Solographic, a printing and graphic design company. Helen Oswald, of Solographic, said: “It is so difficult to grow a business working from home, and the leap into premises is often too big for most. In my case, this is exactly what I needed to grow my business.
“Not only have I gained a professional space to operate, but I am part of a community of people in a similar position.
“I have access to business support through Gateshead Council, and I have the National Trust marketing department and Gibside team promoting it and a guaranteed footfall off the back of this.
“The vision is to benefit businesses and visitors and I believe it will do this.”
The project, known as Garden Shed, is being undertaken by Gateshead Council and aims to support new creative enterprises.
As businesses expand and want to move on to bigger premises, their place is expected to be taken by further new enterprises.
Gateshead Council leader Mick Henry said: “There are lots of exciting business ideas out there, even in difficult times like these. But we know that a lot of them never become more than ideas. This is why we’re so passionate about providing the support to turn those ideas into flourishing enterprises.”
Gibside’s property manager Mick Wilkes said he is thrilled to bring life back into the historic buildings on the estate.
He said: “Community benefit and visitor enjoyment go hand in hand with The Garden Shed project.
“We are thrilled by the chance to bring life back into our historic buildings and landscape while supporting talented local artists, crafts people and entrepreneurs. I know of no other National Trust site taking this approach and hope we can lead the way to other properties becoming more interlinked with their local communities.”
The Garden Shed is one of a number of new attractions at the National Trust’s Gibside Estate, which has seen a 30% growth in visitor numbers during the last year, despite a challenging economic climate.
The 18th-century gardens and parkland, famed for its long tree-lined avenue and chapel, has benefited from a growing reputation for walks and family days out.