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County Durham finalizes the UK City of Culture 2025.



A giant Durham 2025 inflatable sculpture is on display at various places across County Durham ahead of the county’s planned celebration of sports, culture, arts, and science.

Durham Cathedral, Bishop Auckland’s Spanish Gallery, and Beamish Living Museum are just a few of the county’s most popular cultural attractions.

Together with a full year of culture, art, sports, science, and economics, there is a chance that these could be crowned the UK City of Culture 2025.

The bid is completed, and to mark the completion of the announcement, a massive inflatable work of art created by local artist Steve Messam kicks off an excursion through the county, beginning with Durham Cathedral this morning.

The program will include a twelve-month celebration of Durham’s 1,300-year history of space research and an international celebration of the bicentennial of railways and an exhibition that addresses questions regarding the local economy.

The Lumiere festival is also expected to be larger than ever and aims at creating a long-lasting job-creation legacy.

If County Durham’s bid for the position is booming, which seeks to bring the county’s communities and individuals together, it would be the first county to be designated a UK City of Culture.

It will bring more than 15 million visitors to the region, increase the visitor spending of PS700m, and support more than 1,800 employment opportunities within the tourism industry.

Cllr Amanda Hopgood, Leader of Durham County Council and Durham County Council, stated: “It’s fantastic to be in a position to share the exciting ideas we have for Durham 2025. County Durham has such enormous potential, and we’re determined to unite our incredible people, locations, and ideas to transform the county and the entire North East.

“This will be a campaign on behalf of the entire county. We want every person who lives or works throughout County Durham to be a part of the process and reap the rewards of the successful bid. We will involve every town, person, and the village of County Durham.”

Tony Harrington, chair of Culture Durham, said: “An active cultural program can change communities. It helps to connect people; however, it also boosts hopes and provides lasting chances for the communities involved to become involved in cultural activities.

The Durham 2025 inflatable artwork outside Raby Castle (Image: Publicity Picture – Durham County Council)

“We recognize that we have plenty to offer here at County Durham. However, thanks to the bid, we also have a chance to show how culture can assist with employability and skills levels to rise, businesses to expand, and the high streets to flourish. This is something that hundreds of other cities, towns, and countries could also benefit from to help their growth.”

Prof. Karen O’Brien, Vice-Chancellor of Durham University, said: “Durham University is an integral part of the vibrancy of culture in Durham County and the city. Durham University is home to exceptional collections and museums, and our students’ musical, theatre, sports, and volunteer work enrich our community’s life tremendously. We’re committed to sharing our knowledge and facilities to benefit all the people in the region.

“We believe that Durham is a fantastic candidate for UK City of Culture. We would like to see the panel of judges agree, and we anticipate being part of the vast and varied program in 2025.”

While County Durham made it onto the final eight on the list, The Borderlands partnership, consisting of Northumberland, Cumbria, Carlisle City, Dumfries and Galloway, and the Scottish Borders, missed out.

It is anticipated that the list will be further trimmed down this month, and the winner announced in May. The winner will succeed Coventry, UK City of Culture 2021, and has attracted more PS100m funding to fund cultural initiatives.

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Culture & Arts

Antique silverware: Its Background and Value.



Nowadays, the term “silverware” refers to a wide range of items, including jewelry, antique silver tea caddies, flatware, silver handled baskets, porringers, coins, and silver medals or trophies, among many others. However, times have changed dramatically since the Georgian, Victorian, and Edwardian periods, when antique silverware was used on a daily basis primarily by the wealthy or royalty.

Silverware was made as early as the 12th century, and cutlery and flatware became extremely popular and fashionable only a short time later. The antique silverware items that have survived to this day were made from the same grade of silver used in coinage.

Many ordinary people outside of the nobility amassed vast personal fortunes very quickly during the Industrial Revolution, and the upper middle class emerged. Beginning in the 1840s, these “new money” people invested heavily in silverware in order to flaunt their wealth. People stopped eating with their fingers in the Victorian era and began using knives and forks, which were naturally made of silver for the newly wealthy. During this time, English flatware silversmiths found themselves extremely busy serving both the European and American markets.

Just as we collect labor-saving devices today, the upper middle classes collected sterling silver utensils as symbols of wealth but also for everyday use. Silver tea services, tea caddies, coffee pots, fruit baskets, sugar bowls, milk jugs, and countless other pieces of flatware and cutlery could be found throughout Victorian homes.

As can be seen in large antique silver collections, the Victorian period saw silver at its peak, but there was a remarkable decline at the start of WWII, not least due to a lack of technology in machinery to make the items. Historically, all sterling silverware was handcrafted and stamped by machine. During the Great Depression, labor costs were higher, and even wealthy households began to feel the pinch. They used fewer servants, didn’t host as many large dinner parties, and silver maintenance was a major task. Hand polishing sterling silver took time, especially on ornate and intricately designed pieces. Hence Flatware gained popularity because it was much easier to polish and maintain.

Silver’s value fluctuates as a precious metal, but for antique silver collectors, finding perfectly preserved Georgian, Edwardian, and Victorian silverware in perfect condition is a joy. Drinking from a silver goblet and using silver knives, forks, and spoons at a dinner party feels decadent. Serving coffee from a sterling silver coffee pot that has been in use for well over a century puts some of our porcelain and china counterparts to shame.

Antique silverware will always be valuable as an investment, and even if the price of silver falls, you can be certain that it will rise again in the future. Unfortunately, the demand for silver exceeds the supply, and some of the exquisite silver pieces that can occasionally be found in antique markets or hidden away in the attic are sold for scrap and melted down, a process that simply destroys the work of England’s great silversmiths as well as a piece of our history.

Bernard Warner has amassed an impressive collection of antique silver over the course of many years, becoming a renowned collector of Georgian silver from the reigns of George I, George II, and George III. Part of his vast collection, including pieces from the Queen Anne, William IV, Victorian, and Edwardian eras, is now for sale. Some pieces date from 1711.

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