Dereham framing firm celebrates 35 years of craftsmanship

A Dereham frame-moulding firm is still a picture of success after 35 years in the town – and puts its longevity down to traditional craftsmanship.

Midas Mouldings is celebrating the anniversary of its move from Essex into Charles Wood Road, on Rash's Green Industrial Estate, in January 1976.

The company manufactures hand-finished wooden mouldings for wholesalers who sell on to up-market framing manufacturers supplying some of the foremost art galleries in the country.

Company founder Alan Collen has since retired, after selling the business to wholesalers Wessex Pictures and Frinton Mouldings – both based nearby – putting Charles Wood Road at the forefront of the nation's picture frame industry.

More than a dozen different timbers are shaped and profiled, and given a range of coatings.

Office manager Ivan Ball said the company's insistence on traditional quality values had allowed it to fight off competition from plastic copies and cheap imitations from the Far East.

'We are one of the only manufacturers left in the UK doing what we are doing,' he said. 'There used to be lots of us, but most have switched production elsewhere or been taken over by companies from the Far East.

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'Our end market is the classy and expensive galleries. That is why the specialist work people do here is so important – because our Chinese competitors cannot do it yet.

'It is nice that we have still got some real craftspeople in Dereham doing things which are probably not being done anywhere else in the country. It is good old British manufacturing, managing to survive by maintaining its original standards and producing quality.'

Among the 20 employees is moulding finisher Sue Talbot, 46, known as the 'fastest gold-leafer anywhere' who has developed her skill in carefully attaching gold and silver leaf to the moulded frames during 30 years at the company.

'It is the only thing I know,' she said. 'I have been here, on and off, since I was 16. I have tried other jobs and they have just not appealed to me as much as this has. You are doing something where you can see the end product and say: 'That is mine, it was hand-finished by me.'

Mrs Talbot's son Kyle, 20, also started working in the firm's profiling mill last year to follow the family tradition.