Bake Off helping business to bloom

Julie Clay with her collection of crockery.
Julie Clay with her collection of crockery.

An entrepreneur big in china has hailed a top TV show as one of the reasons behind her success.

Whitley Bay-based The Vintage Tea Party provides crockery and bunting hire to an array of events and weddings across the region.

And owner Julie Clay believes the result of popular baking programme the Great British Bake Off has helped give it a greater prominence.

Julie said: “The business started when I bought some vintage china from Tynemouth Flea Market and a couple of friends borrowed pieces for an event they were having.

“When the TV show started highlighting cakes with vintage crockery, I noticed an increase in demand for my cups, saucers and plates.

“People were hiring things to showcase their cakes and the next stage was seeing people hiring my crockery for weddings to create a traditional British vintage theme.”

Now seven years on, Julie has her fingers in many pies and provides her china and tea party paraphernalia to as many as 250 people at a time – and has even had Royal approval.

Julie said: “Princess Royal sipped from my china at an afternoon tea which celebrated the opening of Northumberlandia.

“I love pointing out to people that HRH drank from that cup. We still hire out that particular cup and I trust the customers with it because they always return the china in good condition.”

The Vintage Tea Party’s reputation has risen accordingly with its increase in custom.

Weddings, engagements, birthdays, theatre productions and TV shows have all used her vast collection of crockery which she personally delivers, sets out, collects and painstakingly washes by hand ready for the next function.

Julie added: “There is one lady for who I have provided tea sets for her engagement party which was used again for her wedding and the birthdays of her two children.

“When you have people coming back, especially to play a role in such important days in their or their loved one’s lives, it really is lovely.

“Bake Off really did set off my business and like the cakes on the show, I’ve risen to the challenge.”