The extraordinary building which houses the Watchtower Gallery was built in 1848 at the same time as Robert Stephenson’s splendid railway viaduct was being constructed. It has had a chequered history, housing for various periods a Presbyterian church (its original purpose), the Co-operative Wholesale Society social rooms, a carpet warehouse, and for forty years it was the Jehovah Witnesses' Kingdom Hall. Now it is an Art Gallery.
Since the Watchtower Gallery opened in September 2012 we have held over thirty exhibitions dedicated to more than sixty British artists. Each year there has been an Open Exhibition in which everything that was submitted was hung. Everyone was welcome to participate.
After five years of some thirty shows, together with various concerts, charity events, plays and presentations, I have come to the time when I must revert to my early plans for which I created the gallery.
It was only ever my intention to make the building a home for the work of my late husband and meant only to hang his work and for it to be available to the public at appropriate times. Instead it escalated to what it has become today and I have loved it all. But if I am to compose a Catalogue Raisonné of his work and write the book I have always planned then I must start now.
Thank you for all the fun we have had as well as a lot of hard work by so many dear friends.
The gallery was closed to all public visitors from 6 November 2017.
It will re-open with a major show of the work of Ian Stephenson in due course