There are many interesting buildings in the historical Jewellery Quarter and unfortunately many are in a bad state of disrepair…however for one building a new chapter is about to begin….
Last weekend I went on a behind the scenes tour of the latest Birmingham Conservation Trust project; The Standard Works on Vittoria Street in the Jewellery Quarter. I have walked past this building and often wondered what lay behind the crumbling façade and on Saturday I got a chance to explore the building and learn all about the exciting new plans for the future.
The Standard Works is a large derelict Victorian factory which stands on the corner of Vittoria Street and Regent Place occupying no’s 41-49. BCT will be working in collaboration with the Ruskin Mill Trust (Glasshouse College) to renovate the building into a specialist college building with community facilities and urban rooftop garden. Bryant Priest Newman Architects have been working on plans to transform this derelict factory and save it from further neglect and decay. The project promises to be an exciting new chapter for the building which was built in 1879 and has unfortunately been empty for almost 20 years!
It is an imposing building which stands out due to its crumbling white paintwork & bold purple window frames. It is grade II listed and was originally built to house 15 separate industrial units but over the years has been extensively modified and is now one large unit over 3 storeys. The building is constructed mainly of brick with wrought iron beams and posts to support the upper floors and basement. This is an early example of the use of structural metalwork which grew in popularity as a construction method during the latter half of the industrial revolution which resulted in multi storey and open plan industrial buildings.
Over the years the building has been home to many different industries including jewellery makers, silversmiths, metalwork’s and for the manufacturer of car parts. A sign for ‘Joseph Smith & Sons (Birmingham) Limited’ who once occupied the building manufacturing jewellery remains on the frontage.
Many of the original internal features have been lost but the façade still looks distinctively Victorian featuring large sash windows, decorative stone dressings, and ornate pilasters, arched window heads and stepped profile cornices. There is also some nice rusticated stonework to the ground floor with a textured surface. A large arched doorway and rounded corner form a focal point on the intersection with Regent Place and mark the main entrance.
What struck me whilst walking around the Standard Works was just how big and spacious the internal spaces were with plenty of potential. BCT will be involved in the development stages of the project engaging with the local community to help shape the future plans and discuss the current proposals.
The new day college will provide learning facilities for young adults who have special educational needs and learning disabilities offering therapeutic education through a range of practical skill courses such as horticultural and jewellery making. There are plans for a continental bakery and public café which the students will help run and workshop space for art & crafts activities. One of the most exciting proposals is for a rooftop urban garden where the students can learn about horticultural and keep their own colony of bees to produce honey for sale in the café. The plans promise to transform this empty corner plot into a hive (excuse the pun) of activity bringing new business, life and activity to the area.
I’m really glad this building is going to be renovated and I look forward to seeing its transformation in the near future.
- Location: No’s 41-49 Vittoria Street, Hockley
- Year: Approx. 1879
- Use: Industrial
- Style: Victorian factory
- Materials: Brick with stone detailing and structural wrought iron
- Status: Grade II Listed
More details at: