Ian can see a bright future in stained glass

by Steve Cox

Ian Pocklington at work in his Reepham workshop. Picture: Mike HarringtonIan Pocklington got off to a lucky start in business in 1984 and hasn't looked back since.

He entered a BBC Youth in Business competition in the early days of running his stained-glass window business and this led to appearances on regional television and the Pebble Mill at One programme.

"I didn't win and wasn't even a runner-up, but I got a tremendous amount of work from it," recalled Mr Pocklington, whose workshop is at Reepham. "And I haven't been without work for 18 years. In fact, I usually have four or five months' work lined up."

Like any businessman, Mr Pocklington has his problems and one of them is cash flow. About 90pc of the work he does is restoration of windows, usually churches. Although the church authorities can be relied upon to pay, it can often take a while as much of the money comes from grants.

He is blessed, however, in being the right place and time to benefit from a steady stream of work on church windows.

Norfolk's profusion of churches means there is plenty of work to do and the plethora of Victorian churches, built when stained glass was particularly in vogue, now need their windows renovated.

"There was a lot of stained-glass window work done in the Victorian era. The lead is good for 80 to 100 years but then it needs replacing," said Mr Pocklington, whose one-man business trades as Ian Pocklington Stained Glass Designs.

The craft and skill needed to fashion stained glass brings Ian Pocklington great job satisfaction. Picture: Mike HarringtonThe work is highly skilled, not just in replacing lead but also in repainting details such as saints' faces. Several layers of colour are applied and the glass is kiln fired to set the image.

Mr Pocklington, who has a degree in multi-disciplinary design from the former North Staffs Polytechnic at Stoke-on-Trent, also designs and makes windows as well as three-dimensional glass sculptures.

His work has been exhibited in France, Poland and the US as well as in this country.

He would like to take more commissions for his own work although the restoration of church windows limits the time he has available.

"The work I do ranges from figurative stuff to abstract contemporary," he said. "Television has helped to make stained glass very fashionable in the last l0 years.

"There has been a huge movement of people wanting to get their terrace houses back to the way they used to be. They are putting back period details like the little fanlights above the front door."

He especially likes working to his own designs although the restoration of church windows is enjoyable too - most of the time.

"It is the best job in the world when you are on top of a Norfolk church in the middle of summer ," he said. "But it is not so good in February when you have got sleet going down your neck."

Eastern Daily Press The Business May 2001
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