I tried to get into this place a few times before lockdown but was always unsuccessful due to travellers in the yard outside, gangs of teenagers, or just too many people around in general. When I finally went back to recce it a few days ago I was sure it would have been sealed up by now, but thankfully it wasn’t, and today I went back to explore it.
This building doesn’t look like much, but apparently it’s the UK’s oldest surviving purpose-built car factory. It was originally used to build a novel design of electric car back at the very end of the 19th century, but the cars were not a success and so the factory changed hands after a couple of years. It’s now been empty for nearly twenty years; there was a plan to redevelop it at one time but nothing ever came of this.
Inside, the large building consists of a single storey section with pitched glass roof sandwiched between two double storey brick sections. The layout inside was quite open and it didn’t take me very long to look around the whole thing. The middle part is now being recolonised by nature, with a surprising amount of greenery growing in the sunlight streaming through the (now partially broken) glass roof.
The side parts are dark and damp, made up of large and mostly empty rooms with rows of pillars holding up the roofs. The place reminded me a little of the first factory I ever explored (though much smaller), and also a little of the Shrubhill tram depot.
The two upper stories are linked by an enclosed “bridge” across the open middle section, but as this had a very damp looking wooden floor I didn’t trust it to take my weight. Thankfully since there were separate staircases on either side I was able to explore both upper floors without having to risk crossing the bridge.
There wasn’t a huge amount to see in here, but it’s an interesting piece of local history so I was glad to finally be able to get inside and tick it off my list.