£200k to restore oldest hat factory

Historic England has granted £200,000 to bring Hat Works, Luton’s oldest hat factory, out of dereliction.

The Grade 11 listed building, originally, Straw Plait Merchants, was built in the mid 19thcentury and was dedicated to hat manufacture for over 150 years, until it closed in 2006. It is now part of Luton Culture’s Hat District creative cluster project to offer new, affordable and contemporary workspace and opportunities for emerging creative talent from the area.

A year ago Historic England funded emergency works to halt any further decay to the Guildford Street factory in Luton’s conservation area, and the new work to repair brickwork, roof, tiles, plaster, windows and floorboards is expected to be completed in summer 2020.

“This building is a significant part of Luton’s hat manufacturing past and its prominent place on Guildford Street makes it a focal point for visitors and commuters to Luton” said Karen Perkins, head of culture and engagement at Luton Culture.“Therefore, its restoration and reanimation will achieve a great deal by improving people’s perceptions of Luton and growing local pride and connectivity to Luton’s built heritage.”


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