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Time for tea in Durham city as iconic teapot goes back on show

A Durham City landmark which has had a bird’s eye view of over 160 years of local change is causing a stir now it is back on show following a golden makeover.

The three-foot high Durham Teapot has been displayed outside various city centre stores and buildings since at least the mid-19th century, but has been out of sight since last September, when it was removed from the second storey front of 73 Saddler Street in advance of Newcastle Building Society’s refurbishment of the building.

The temporary removal provided an opportunity for the City of Durham Trust, which is responsible for the Teapot, to undertake a full restoration of the iconic local landmark.

During the work, conservators uncovered an original layer of gold paint beneath its black exterior, which has since led to the Teapot being regilded as part of its restoration.

The newly-golden Teapot was put back in place on Friday (15 June) on a bracket above the same shopfront, which is now the Society’s recently-opened Durham City branch and financial advice centre.

The earliest known photograph of the Teapot shows it outside the building belonging to CF White in 1857, around the time of the rebuilding of St Nicholas Church.

During the Saddler Street work, the Teapot was placed in the Durham Museum & Heritage Centre where an assessment of the restoration work it required was carried out by expert conservator Wendy Somerville-Woodiwis and then commissioned with the support of funding from Newcastle Building Society and City of Durham Trust members.

The restoration included the repair of the Teapot’s oak handle and some of its metal work, a complete stripping of the old surface paint, gilding to replicate the original gold paint that was uncovered on the body and a complete covering of varnish to protect it from the elements.

Roger Cornwell, former chair of the City of Durham Trust, says: “The Trust works to enhance the city environment through projects such as this, which represent a clear link to Durham’s past.

“We’ve had lots of questions from local people about where the Teapot has gone and what’s been happening to it, and we think they’ll be excited to see it back where it belongs.

“The conservator has gone well above and beyond the call of duty in the restoration work she’s done, and we hope lots of people come out to admire what her work has created for their city.”

In February this year, Newcastle Building Society opened its new Saddler Street branch and financial advice centre as part of a continuing branch investment programme across its North East and Cumbrian heartland.

Stuart Miller, customer director at Newcastle Building Society, adds: “Reactions from our customers and the local community to the return of the teapot has been simply wonderful.

“It’s a quirky landmark with a proud history and it’s clearly very fondly regarded. We’re extremely proud to see it back on display above our new Durham City branch.”