A former village pub has taken on a new lease of life thanks to the hard work of two women and a boost in broadband speeds.
Set up in 2013, Gallery 45, previously the Stags Head, in Felton, is a creative hub boasting an art gallery, eight artist studios, a gift/coffee shop and rentable space, the latter used by the community for everything from tribal belly dancing to choral singing.
And with the installation of superfast broadband, as part of the iNorthumberland fibre roll-out, owners Mary Mewett and Jane Mills are able to offer free wifi. As a result, they have expanded the services they offer, attracted new customers and even recruited two new members of staff.
Mary said: “Our plans for the business have evolved as time has gone on – it’s been an exciting journey.
“We still have many ideas as to how we will develop our business, but the game-changer for us was upgrading to superfast broadband. The faster broadband speeds have made even the simplest things more efficient.
“Ordering stock online for the gallery and gift shop takes a fraction of the time and we’ve been able to create a fantastic website and use social media to promote the business and attract new customers.”
Gallery 45 recently hosted an event for Northumberland County Council’s Be Digital Women and Broadband programme, which has provided intensive digital business support and training to 20 female entrepreneurs who run their own businesses in the county.
Coun Liz Simpson, the county council’s deputy business chairman, said: “Mary and Jane at Gallery 45 are great examples of how female entrepreneurs in Northumberland are making the most of superfast broadband in order to grow their own business locally, nationally and even internationally, by reaching a global market over the internet.”