The Culture Trust, Luton are celebrating completing the heritage restoration and refurbishment of the oldest former hat factory in Luton.
Hat Works – the project to restore and re-use the old factory - was awarded one of the Architectural Heritage Fund’s major Transformational Project Grants in June 2020.
Built between 1840 and 1850, the building was used as a hat factory until 2006, but has been empty and unused since then. Situated in the centre of the town and Plaiters Lea Conservation Area, it forms part of the Hat District heritage regeneration project led by The Culture Trust. The Trust’s ambition is to re-animate the ‘at risk’ conservation area with cultural activity, caring for the cluster of important heritage buildings in the area that reveal the history of this once vibrant hat trading town.
Now carefully restored, Hat Works will provide affordable and much needed work space for creative and digital entrepreneurs, innovators and micro-businesses in an inspiring heritage setting. Members can develop ideas, collaborate and benefit from a range of professional work and social spaces. Whilst everyone is welcome, there will be a particular focus on young people and a cohort of pioneer members who are already in place to move in when the interior fit out is complete early this summer.
Marie Kirbyshaw, Chief Executive of The Culture Trust, said:
“This well-loved old hat factory has been through a long but careful restoration and looks incredible thanks to the generosity of our funders and the skills of a highly specialist team. We have curated an eclectic mix of decorative and functional design features, restored heritage and added modern functionality so that Hat Works will inspire, and meet the needs of, a new generation of creative and digital start-up businesses.”
As well as the AHF grant, the project has received funding from the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership, Historic England, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, The Linbury Trust and The Pilgrim Trust.
1) The Architectural Heritage Fund is a registered charity, working since 1976 to promote the conservation and sustainable re-use of historic buildings for the benefit of communities across the UK, particularly in economically disadvantaged areas. We are the only specialist heritage social investor in the UK. We provide advice, development grants and loans.
2) Hat Works is a project developed and delivered by The Culture Trust, Luton, an independent charity with a mission ‘to connect communities through culture’. It forms part of the Hat District in Luton. https://www.hatdistrict.co.uk/
3) Photos provided by The Culture Trust, Luton.
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