Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg recently made a surprise visit to Kent Blaxill’s 175th anniversary celebration.

Directors were already planning to commemorate the event with a horse and cart trip through Colchester, past the company’s numerous former high street premises to the Town hall for tea with the mayor.

However, the unexpected visit of the Deputy Prime Minister was the icing on the cake, according to Kent Blaxill’s managing director Simon Blaxill. “It is a very good day for us,” he said. “175 is a big birthday. Sir Bob Russell [Colchester MP] has always been a big supporter of our company and it was a nice anniversary surprise to have Nick Clegg with us today. He was very interested in the fact we have been here a long time and have got employees who are very loyal to us. About 10 percent of them have worked here for more than 25 years.”

Mr Clegg met both young and long-serving employees, including assistant showroom manager Laura Downing, 23, who began her Kent Blaxill career as an apprentice, as well as watching a high-tech glass cutting demonstration by Robin Coe.

Mr Clegg, while acknowledging that a return of national economic recovery was taking longer than hoped, pointed to the ongoing success of businesses like Kent Blaxill as offering hope for the future. He said: “I am very happy to be here on such a successful day.”

Following Mr Clegg’s visit, Kent Blaxill directors mounted the horse and cart for their trip into the centre of the town past former Kent Blaxill premises at 3A, 60 and 100-104, before enjoying tea with Colchester Mayor Christopher Arnold. During its long history, the company has been closely entwined with the commercial, civic and social growth of the town, with two members of the company having been Mayor of Colchester – one of them twice.

In the evening the company held a reception at Colchester’s new Firstsite arts centre where there was also an exhibition of historic photographs and artefacts.