Family tradition set to continue

Stained Glass Centre at Killerby on the outskirts of Scarborough.Owner Val Green works on restoring a church stained glass window..Picture Richard Ponter 130826e
Stained Glass Centre at Killerby on the outskirts of Scarborough.Owner Val Green works on restoring a church stained glass window..Picture Richard Ponter 130826e

Creating beautiful pieces of stained glass has been a life-long passion for Val Green.

Using the skills passed down by her father, and his father before him, she has been restoring windows and creating new designs for the last 35 years.

But now, following a particularly hectic year, Val has decided to take things a little easier.

From the end of the year, she will be handing over the reins at the Stained Glass Centre at Killerby Lane in Cayton, near Scarborough, to family members and long-standing colleague Andy Brepi.

Val said: “I’ll take more of a back seat, but I won’t stop. I’ll concentrate more on our courses and doing a bit of teaching.

“We’ve been so busy this year it’ll be nice to have a breather.”

Chatting to Val in the relaxed and tranquil surroundings of the centre, which started off as the family farmhouse, it’s hard to imagine things being hectic at all.

But as she lists the commissions and restoration projects carried out this year, it becomes clear that Val is indeed due a well earned rest.

Among other projects, she has worked on windows at All Hallows Church, next to the Tower of London, Hackness Church, St Oswald’s and St John’s Churches in Filey, a church near Newark in Nottinghamshire and two commissioned pieces for Scarborough Rugby Club.

Val said: “I do the church windows from beginning to end. I design them and put them together and Andy fits them.

“It involves a lot of painting and firing and each window I do, I really enjoy doing it.

“When it’s fitted, it gives you quite a buzz to see the window in place. The worst thing would be to see something wrong - but luckily it hasn’t happened yet!”

Val explained that although stained glass designs have changed over the years, the process of creating it remains the same.

Recent commissions of modern pieces for the rugby club have been carried out alongside painstaking restoration work, which Val - with a smile - refers to as a kind of “forgery”.

She says: “Restoration work is quite a challenge, as you’ve got to put the window back in the style of the original artist.

“You’re piecing things together, copying the style, and you’ve got to follow each stage that the artist did originally or it doesn’t look right.

“The nicest thing is for somebody to say it looks as good as new.”

A former teacher, Val is also passionate about passing on her skills and knowledge to others.

Demand for courses has been high, especially with the recent trend for traditional crafts and hand-made items - or the “Kirstie Allsopp effect”.

People have been signing up for weekend courses and Val is soon to start day taster sessions too.

She said: “People are absolutely amazed at what they can do. They start at 9am and by 10am they find themselves cutting complicated shapes from glass.

“It’s amazing how quickly people relax into it. They’re proud of the fact they’ve produced something.”

Val adds that the resurgence of traditional crafts has led to people keeping - or even adding - stained glass to their homes, whereas in the 1980s they were being taken out.

As well as commissioning windows and panels, people have also been keen to buy smaller items, such as mirrors and Tiffany-style lamps.

Val’s daughter Becky makes these items and also runs the showroom, with her elder daughter Karen in charge of the tea room.

With the business going from strength to strength, this family affair looks set to continue.

So as Val starts to wind down, she knows her beloved glass will be in safe hands.