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Ruskin Mill Land Trust


Client - Ruskin Mill Land Trust


Historic house to provide much-needed accommodation for specialist education college in Birmingham

Like many other early 19th-century domestic houses in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, 9 Regent Place did not last long as a home but was transferred into factory use as the Quarter became increasingly industrialised. When the adjacent Standard Works was built in 1879, 9 Regent Place was annexed to provide rooms for offices, rear access to the main factory and additional workshop space. The original four-storey sash windowed house was extended to fill the former garden plot, with long workshops lit on all sides by large multi-pane iron windows typical of the Jewellery Quarter manufactories. For 100 years the factory produced first jewellery, then car parts, but by the mid-1980’s trading had ceased and the Standard Works was abandoned, leaving 9 Regent Place under used and in decline.

In 2014, Ruskin Mill Land Trust purchased Standard Works with a vision of creating a vibrant mixed-use development centred around a specialist education provider for young people aged 16-25, run by Argent College as their Birmingham base. The development of 9 Regent Place represents phase 3 of the project and provides much-needed space for this rapidly expanding cultural centre and college. The ground floor will be rented out to “Cornerstone”, a jewellery enterprise that trains young people as commercial jewellery workers, continuing the traditional skills of the Quarter, while the upper floors will be used by the College to help young people with complex needs to overcome learning barriers and achieve their potential through learning practical skills. The first and second floors will be used for class rooms and offices for College staff, and the fourth floor is likely to be used for life-skills training in a fully fitted-out flat. 

This project demonstrates how former industrial buildings can provide ideal opportunities for adaptation as flexible, mixed-use spaces. Additionally, the partnership between the Ruskin Mill  Land Trust and Argent College showcases the exemplary potential of early-stage partnerships between organisations with a shared goal of crafting usable spaces from historic structures.

The project was awarded an AHF Viability grant of £7,500 in 2018, which particularly explored options for resolving the different levels between the main college and 9 Regent Place in a way that maintained the historic integrity of both buildings. Further funding is being raised to take the project forward and Ruskin Mill Land Trust will start on site as soon as funds allow. Until that time roof repairs are being carried out to allow the building to have a meanwhile use.

About Ruskin Mill Land Trust

For over 30 years, Ruskin Mill Trust has provided Specialist Independent Education to children and adults with complex needs including learning difficulties, autistic spectrum conditions and disabilities. Using the insights of Rudolf Steiner, John Ruskin and William Morris, Ruskin Mill Trust works with hand, head, heart and place to provide students with the tools to transform material and in doing so transform themselves and helping them to make positive contributions to society at large, giving back in a self-directed, productive and enjoyable way.

AHF Funding

Project Viability Grant, £6,840 (2018)

This grant was made possible by funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

June 2021



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