FOUR new businesses have joined the town's independent lineup, as Hexham enjoys a positive start to 2024.

Northumberland Antique Centre, Snap Records and Travels with Amy M have all opened in Hexham since the start of the year, along with The Garden Coffee House.

Northumberland Antique Centre launched on January 1. Owner Chris Campbell stocks more than 30 sellers across 3,000 square feet and said: “The response has been phenomenal. We have seen more than 1,200 items find new homes with the people of Hexham, the surrounding areas and even nationwide. That’s all within three months.”

Hexham Courant: Moira Harwood at Snap RecordsMoira Harwood at Snap Records (Image: Hexham Community Partnership)

Snap Records is in a listed building on Hexham Market Place. Snap, the creation of Jamie and Moira Harwood, specializes in secondhand vinyl, CDs and tapes plus music memorabilia. Snap has now expanded into a room at the rear so Jamie and Moira can buy and sell HiFi systems and guitars. 

The Garden Coffee House was opened by Grant Cameron in mid-March. Grant said: “Since we opened, business has been great. Hexham is a town with such a buzz and bustle about it and the people are lovely too, which makes it a no-brainer to open here.”

Hexham Courant: Amy Moffat from Travels with Amy M Amy Moffat from Travels with Amy M (Image: Hexham Community Partnership)

Travels with Amy M (TRAM) opened on St Mary’s Chare at the end of March. Designer Amy Moffat has been running the business successfully for 12 years online, but wanted a permanent base to use as a shop and studio. She said: “There is an art gallery opposite and an interior designer next door to TRAM - it feels like we're growing an art and design precinct here in Hexham.”

Kelly Morgan’s Artful closed on Hexham’s Battle Hill after 17 years in Hexham, but the shop has already been claimed by another independent retailer. It’s been announced that the Grace and Purpose lifestyle store will soon open there.    

Neil Wilkinson, chair of Hexham Community Partnership - the town’s development trust - said: “I work as a planning, regeneration and environment manager elsewhere in the region. It’s clear that some national brands are reorganising themselves due to market conditions – and I will certainly miss M&S being here - but Hexham is really motoring with its independents. Our new and established indies are all unique to Hexham and really add to the town’s charm.”

Hexham Courant: Trish Hannant, business owner of the Pretty Flamingo gift shop and the Studio 19 hair salonTrish Hannant, business owner of the Pretty Flamingo gift shop and the Studio 19 hair salon (Image: Natalie Finnigan)

The Pretty Flamingo gift shop and Obscuria Pottery Studio & Gift Shop on Market Street have also opened since September 2023. Two others also opened late last year on St Mary’s Chare: The Bureau of Dreams, from artist Rachel Hope, and French & Wilder, an interior design shop with Gallic flair.

Hexham Courant: Nathan Wilder opens his interior shop in Hexham Nathan Wilder opens his interior shop in Hexham (Image: NQ)

Nathan Wilder of French & Wilder said: “Business in Hexham has been thriving since we opened our doors in early November. Some customers who know us from Instagram have travelled from miles away to visit.”

Mr Wilkinson said: “There’s nowhere else like Hexham. We have superb tourist attractions such as Hexham Abbey and the Old Gaol; glorious parks; an independent cinema that’s an art deco gem; a lovely stretch of the River Tyne; Queen’s Hall Arts providing a great array of cultural experiences; high-street heroes such as Next, Waitrose, White Stuff and Seasalt, plus our growing array of independent businesses. People really should get Hexham on their list for a day or a weekend away.” 

The Hexham High Streets Heritage Action Zone project (HSHAZ) has been ongoing to boost the town centre, with more than £3.5m investment in improvements to make it a more attractive, engaging, and vibrant place for people to live, work and visit, while also enhancing the Conservation Area status of the town centre. 

READ MORE: 'The end is in sight': Hexham revitalising works to be completed by May

Mayor of Hexham, Derek Kennedy, said: "We've got the Heritage Zone nearing completion, I know it's been tiresome for people but it will be finished in May and will last for many years to come. It's been positive watching new independent businesses come and set up. It shows you the town is fairly healthy in regards to retail."

He thanked residents for their patience in waiting for roadworks, which are part of the project, to be completed.