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Report (Permission Visit) Christopher Wray Lighting Birmingham Sept 2016 Pt 1

Discussion in 'Industrial Sites' started by sidibear, Sep 12, 2016.

  1. sidibear

    sidibear 28DL Regular User
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    Photo heavy.
    Once again thank you to Birmingham's Hidden Space project for allowing me access, and the opportunity to test out my new XT10.

    Dweeb visited this site in June 2012 and Speed visited in June 2013, links to their reports should be at the bottom of the thread. Its changed a lot inside since then as the developers now have permission to convert it into student accommodation. Their plan is to restore as much as possible of the original building and construct a high rise building on the same site. Any relics and artefacts found on the site will be on display in a bar they are building on site. The forging pit will be left as is and covered over with a see through panel.

    Not much history to go on. Christopher Wray was an entertainer who decided to make and sell lighting fixtures and fittings. The building itself was several Georgian townhouses with workshops at the rear which kind of spread into one factory over time.
    The below history copied from Hidden Spaces feature on this site.

    A struggling actor, who occasionally lends a harmonium to Dudley Moore, turns down a full time role in Emmerdale Farm to sell domestic lighting. It's an unlikely story but one that's completely true.

    The history of the former Christopher Wray Lighting works, located on Bartholomew Row next to Millennium Point, is as varied as that of its owner.
    The complex of buildings which make up the site is surrounded on all sides by modern development but itself is an incredible snapshot of the city's history. A row of three townhouses front the street, frozen in time and left vacant since 2003.

    The site has been dogged with misfortune over recent years, with failed compulsory purchase orders, failed demolition applications and a subsequent statutory listing seeing its value plummet from over £2 million to negative £1 million.
    Two of the townhouses are original Georgian residences, which predate the earliest map of the city, indicating their age could date back as far as 1720.

    This makes them the oldest surviving dwellings in the city centre and a vitally important part of Birmingham's architectural history. They would have sat proudly as part of a grand square around the now demolished St. Bartholomew's Chapel.
    The site is bookended on Fox Street with a row of former back-to-back houses and the courtyard between the two rows of houses evolved over the centuries into a manufacturing hub.

    The complex is Grade II listed, not for its architectural merit, but as a fascinating and well preserved example of light industry operating within a courtyard of houses. The townhouses, although heavily adapted, still have a domestic arrangement of rooms around timber staircases.
    The remains of patterned wallpaper are stained from water damage and net curtains sway with the wind rushing through the broken windows. The courtyard to the rear is accessed by a big cart entrance, which leads into an 18th century maltings.

    Around this top-lit central space are long, narrow workshop buildings with workbenches along one side and lots of cast iron windows, enabling workers to work flooded in natural light.
    Littered around the spaces are the remnants of the industrial past and it's easy to get a feel for the oppressive working conditions. In the windowless basement workshops old die stamps are arranged along a floor trench, with the remains of a menacing rusted steam hammer overhead.

    Parts of an old furnace sit against the wall and an array of tools and dies fill the space. These are the surviving relics of over 250 years of manufacturing on the site, probably beginning with jewellery manufacture and finally ending with lighting.

    Christopher Wray took on the buildings in the early 1970s and they swiftly became an integral part of his business.
    From his workshop in Birmingham, Wray served all of his other shops in the country, including his famous emporium on the King's Road in London, the largest dedicated lighting retail space in the country. Wray specialised in a traditional, antique inspired style and there are many reminders still scattered around the spaces, such as traditional lampshade moulds and ornate alabaster brass mouldings.

    An enormous amount of work in necessary to bring these buildings back into viable use, but use is the only effective means of conservation for these decaying treasures.

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    Developers Proposal
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    #1 sidibear, Sep 12, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2016
    MJ720 and The.Northern.Squad like this.

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  2. sidibear

    sidibear 28DL Regular User
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    Photos part 2

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    Lavino likes this.
  3. Lavino

    Lavino 28ÐŁ ƦEGUŁλƦ U$EƦ
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    Nice report that :thumb
     
  4. ZerO81

    ZerO81 Team Weasel
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    Not sure it needed to be two part to be honest, a lot of the photos across the two reports are quite samey and it could have easily been combined into one report.
     
  5. Speed

    Speed Got Epic?
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    Just merge the threads..

    Good to see what's going on (ie nothing lol!)
     
  6. dweeb

    dweeb Super Moderator
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    Done...
     
  7. sidibear

    sidibear 28DL Regular User
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    Thank you Dweeb, I didn't know how to do it. Nice to see the difference in yours and Speeds reports to how it is now.
    They couldn't do anything for two years as planning was held up by the council so they couldn't even do preventative maintenance.
     
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