Tag Archives: W. Smith’s Chemist and Photographer’s

The preparations are almost finished!

It’s been a busy old few months for the buildings team, with work on the Chemist’s and Photographer’s taking a lot of time and effort – in advance of the opening early in May.

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Shaun’s team have finished all the external shop front, the internal counters, drug-runs, shelving, and panelling. The scaffolding came down recently and Sarah Jarman has been busy sign-writing.

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Inside the Chemist the finishing touches of ‘set-dressing’ are being led by Clara, with the Aerated Waters plant and gas lighting currently undergoing their final installations.

We think you’ll agree that it’s looking fantastic!

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Progress on W. Smith’s Chemist and Photographer’s

As we head towards the opening of the Chemist and Photographer’s in late Spring, and despite the snow, the Buildings Team have begun work on installing the period fixtures and fittings that will help to bring the new exhibit to life.

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Shaun standing behind the shop counter in the reception area of the Photographer’s Studio.

In the Photographer’s, Shaun and his team have nearly finished fitting the impressive mahogany panels that will form the divide between the reception and studio. The shop counter has also been installed, which  has been made from the bottom sections of more of the mahogany panels (learn more about the Joinery Team’s work on the Chemist and Photographer’s here). The panelling will also continue along the walls of the corridor of the reception up to dado rail height, with specially reproduced wallpaper above.

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The wallpaper that will be used in the Photographer’s Studio will be a reproduction of this 1907 sample.

The wallpaper is a copy of a pattern that was available to purchase from the Co-op in 1907. Clara found it in a catalogue that is in Beamish’s archives. It was chosen firstly because of its colour – ‘pea green’ was according to P. C. Duchochois’ 1891 book Lighting the Photographic Studio, a favourite with photographers due to its light reflecting qualities. It also has an Art Nouveau motif printed on it. By the early 1900s Art Nouveau had evolved from being an avant garde style, which originated in Paris to being one of the most popular and fashionable styles of the era. In contrast to the fussy foliage of William Morris-type patterns, its sinuous lines were considered to be extremely modern. This was something which a photographer, whose business relied upon fashion and up-to-date technology would probably have appreciated, and therefore we have decided to decorate the studio in the Art Nouveau style.

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Paul installing the Art Nouveau fireplace in the Photographer’s studio.

With this in mind, the fireplace that Paul and his team are currently fitting in the studio with its exaggerated recessed-dome opening is in high Art Nouveau style. The wallpaper and fireplace, along with other details such as a beautiful restored gas chandelier and reclaimed early 20th century door furniture will help to make the space feel at the height of Edwardian fashion.

In contrast, the Chemist will be decorated in a much older style to reflect that it is a more established and traditional business. This means that although set in the 1910s, it will seem as if it has changed little since the 1880s, and in parts will appear to be even older, given that the building we are copying was original built during the mid-Georgian era. This means that the interior will include heavy, dark wooden shop fittings,which Shaun and his team have been restoring and resizing ready for their installation (look out for a further post with more details of this). Instead, of the stylish fireplace in the studio, the fireplace in the Chemists is a decoratively fussy, reclaimed hob-grate. When finished, the walls will be a dark ‘Pugin’ red that would have been very fashionable during the mid to late Victorian period, with reproduction ‘Anaglypta’ (or  raised textured) wallpaper on the ceiling, that will become increasingly stained by the gas lighting.

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The mid-Victorian hob grate fireplace in the Chemist’s. 

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Progress of W. Smith’s Chemist and Photographer’s

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The nearly completed façade of W. Smith’s Chemist and Photographer’s

The scaffold at W. Smith’s Chemist and Photographer’s has been partially dropped, revealing the impressive façade for the first time.

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The mahogany panels that will form the divide between the reception and studio in the Photographer’s, and which once re-glazed with fully transparent glass will allow the visitors to see the photographer at work.

Inside, the beautiful mahogany panels in the Photographic Studio are beginning to be installed. And in the Chemist, the wonderful carved column has been put in place. Although not actually structural, it is intended to help to portray the Chemist’s as much older establishment than the other buildings in the street, and hint at the original building on Elvet’s Bridge past as a Georgian inn.

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Shaun and the carved column in the Chemist 

At the rear of the building Paul, Cos and Kearon are busy constructing the base for the  wooden-framed conservatory, which Shaun and his team will be building. Photographic studios conventionally had a conservatory or large skylight to enable enough light for a good quality exposure. Just like ours will be, this would have been located to side of where the sitters were photographed, with the light coming from the North, to provide a constant, non-glaring light, which was best for taking photographs in.

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Jim and Paul discussing the rear conservatory

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The interiors of W. Smith’s Chemist and Photographer’s begin to take shape

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As the second storey floor goes in and the chimney stacks are nearing completion, the interior spaces of W. Smith’s Chemist and Photographer’s are beginning to take shape.

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The roof structure of W. Smith’s Chemist and Photographers’ is complete!

The completed roof structure of W. Smith's Chemist and Photographers'

The completed roof structure of W. Smith’s Chemist and Photographers’

After many weeks of hard work Shaun, Dan and Keith have finished the timber roof structure, complete with the curves and twists that mimic the roof of the building we are copying on Elvet Bridge in Durham. There is still much more to do before we can start on the interior of the shop. Paul and Cos need to build the building’s gable peaks and chimneys and the roof needs to be covered with reclaimed slates.

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The first floor of W. Smith’s arrives

DSCN2407Earlier this morning, a giant crane appeared in the Town at Beamish. Its job is to help load in place the hollow concrete slabs that will form the first floor of W. Smith’s.

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Progress on W. Smith’s Chemist and Photographer’s

The building of W. Smith's has now reached first floor height.

The building of W. Smith’s has now reached first floor height.

Work is progressing well on W. Smith’s. At the site, Paul and Cos have now reached first floor level and the internal scaffolding is being taken down ready for the installation of the first storey floors. Shaun and Dan have also been working hard and the tricky replica shop front corbels are now nearly complete.

Shaun standing with one of the nearly finished shop front corbels.

Shaun standing with one of the nearly finished shop front corbels.

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