All my life I've lived near a massive knitting factory. I thought that was a long time, but in fact there's been a factory on the same site since 1722.
You see part of the reason I decided to stay and work in this town where I grew up - apart from the low cost of living, proximity to Shakespeare, family/best mate and rich countryside - is that it has a thoroughly industrious vibe, being the core of the UK's hosiery industry and populated by two things: factories, and pubs (we had 133 pubs near the turn of the century - the number of factories I'm less sure about). That vibe has permeated our workspace and work ethic, our home having always been our own little factory - hence Factoryroad . Our new studio has been careful to reflect the factory-heavy street we live in, and the many years the people living here have spent working early mornings and late nights, watching the workers clock in at 7am and out at 4, with fag breaks rigorously observed in all weathers.
This massive factory is known locally as the Atkins building, but is actually called the Goddard Building, and is a beautiful example of solid, elegant Grade II listed architecture built in 1875, just a few years before our house and the factory built behind it (our house was built for its owner, Mr Thomas Ironmonger, Chairman of the Urban District Council).
The Goddard Building has recently been saved from the insurance-arson/dereliction/lunatic-bulldozer which our council is sadly renowned for, and subjected to an impressive transformation into a new creative centre and part of the new art school. The art school, originally in the next town, is decades old, taught both my uncles, and was the place I taught part time for six years as a fresh and enthusiastic graduate. The new building I can virtually see from my window, which will make guest lectures easier in future, and will bring much-needed energy to an area beset by neglect and a declining pub trade.
I went to the building's opening last week, and took some pictures. I think they've done a handsome job, and feel pleased that such a massive endeavour has been channelled towards the arts, rather than yet another sport venue/takeaway.
Some links for further reading:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinckley (we're in the Domesday book)