It was once a thriving workshop where cases for Rolex watches and other high-end jewellery were made.
But now a group of entrepreneurs is breathing new life into a former factory in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter to create a £1 million co-working and flexible office hub called The Jointworks.
The grade II-listed site in Albion Street was built in the 1880s and has been used for a host of manufacturing purposes including making parts for the iconic timepieces.
It was acquired earlier this year by Andy Hartwell and his colleagues who are now converting the three-floor block into a new base where small companies, entrepreneurs and freelancers can work, meet and collaborate.
Mr Hartwell runs a trio of Jewellery Quarter-based web development and marketing agencies called Substrakt, Substrakt Health and Impakt which will all relocate to The Jointworks.
The 10,000 sq ft complex will also have a range of spaces available including offices to lease and hotdesking facilities for those who wish to visit more sporadically, with capacity for more than 100 people.
Mr Hartwell told BusinessLive: “Originally, the plan was for it to house our companies but, with something of this scale, we really wanted to open it up and build a community alongside ourselves.
“We’re aiming the centre at SMEs, tech companies and freelancers who want a permanent desk to use most days while the bottom floor will be pitched as an event space and co-working area for people looking for somewhere they can just drop into now and again.
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“We think it will appeal to the tech, arts and graphics and creative industries in the city.
“We have always taken bigger spaces for our businesses and now want to surround ourselves with like-minded people and companies.
“It’s even more relevant at this time as more businesses are thinking about closing down their offices so something like this will keep that social interaction going by bringing people together.”
The units at 62-64 Albion Street were designed by William Tadman Foulkes, the man behind Rugeley Town Hall, and used by a string of different companies including WH Wilmot and Saunders and Shepherd for making watch straps, bracelets and other jewellery parts.
Production ceased on the premises in 2009 but it retains many of its original features and its historic connection to watch links prompted the choice of name The Jointworks.
Work on the renovation is due to start on site early next year and is expected to take around four months to complete.
Mr Hartwell, who is tackling a property regeneration project for the first time, said he had spent many years trying to find the right premises but was often left disappointed.
“For me, the big attraction of this building is its history and heritage which is something I really wanted in the site we chose,” he said.
“It’s something I’m passionate about and I just want to see these lovely old buildings in Birmingham and the Jewellery Quarter have new uses and done so in a really good way.
“It was relatively water tight when we took it on but full of birds. The windows are also bowing out and in a sorry state so those, along with the roofing, will be the biggest challenge for us.
“We’re being very sympathetic with our plans to keep what’s there and are now working with conservation architects. We want to unveil the stories that are within.”