Wander beyond Durham’s cobbled streets, down the ancient steps from Silver Street or through the back doors of the Indoor Market, and you’ll come across a collection of small, red brick buildings with traditional barn doors and cast iron swinging wall signs. Visitors will enjoy the little oasis of calm that surrounds these artisan workspaces, as these creative small businesses offer a welcome break from the mainstream commercial shops, just yards away.
Fowlers Yard is a unique development of nine creative workspaces for professional artists, craftspeople and creative businesses. Transformed from their original purpose as stables and warehouses, the buildings have also been used as scout huts, and a recording studio including practice room for musicians. Since shortly after the millenium, Durham City Council have been renting the buildings to artists. The studios bear the individuality of each tenant, and visitors have the opportunity to meet the artists and observe many different creative processes in action. Fowlers Yard is also home to the City Theatre and Leonard’s Coffee House, and together with the studios, this community forms the growing cultural quarter within the city.
Despite it’s transformations, Fowlers yard has managed to retain its’ authentic charm whilst much of Durham city is being so heavily redeveloped. It’s a street with real character, and the members of Fowlers Yard are all passionate about keeping hand-crafted skills alive. The Yard is firmly established, as several of the tenants have been there well over 10 years, with the newer inhabitants positively adding to it’s creative diversity. There is no other artistic corner like this in central Durham!
There is something for everybody down in Fowlers Yard, and the artisans welcome the opportunity to share their individual techniques with visitors. On display are skills such as wool spinning and fleecing, furniture restoration, jewellery design, printmaking, hand embroidery, portrait painting, tapestry weaving, photography, illustration and micro-brewing.
Fowlers Yard is an unexpected pocket of creativity, tucked away down on the banks of the River Wear in Durham. It’s an artistic community that lies literally moments away from the buzzing historic and retail heart of Durham City Centre.