The Glastonbury Town Deal has secured £23.6 million investment for the town, representing a once-in-a-generation opportunity to deliver the objectives outlined in the Town Investment Plan

Project: The Life Factory

The renovation of part of Red Brick Building C enables historical building to be saved

£250,000 funding was awarded from the Town Deal Accelerator Fund for: 

  • Extensive roof repairs
  • Structural repairs to first floor
  • Air-source heat pump
  • Renovation of toilets
  • New electrical & data systems and fire alarm
  • Improvements to access
  • Window repairs

Key achievements and benefits delivered:

  • Two bays of the building made weathertight for the first time in many years
  • Energy-efficient hyper inverter air-source heat pump heating system installed, which will save money and reduce CO2 emissions
  • First floor made safe, with sections repaired or replaced
  • Capacity of guttering doubled, future-proofing the building to prepare for extreme weather events
  • Existing toilets extensively refurbished and new toilets created for planned youth space
  • Stairs improved and shaft prepared for new lift, which will make the building more accessible
  • Original windows renovated and reglazed
  • Essential electrical & data systems and fire alarm fitted

Project Overview

Back in the late 19th century, Beckery Village was a thriving industrial hub. Hundreds of people were employed in leather work for Morlands and Clarks. Sadly, the factories were closed in the 1980s and the buildings were left to fall into a state of ruin.

The old factories were heading for demolition and the local community rallied to preserve the site. A Community Interest Company was created, restoring and transforming Buildings A and B into a vibrant community space, with a popular restaurant/café, offices for local micro-businesses and event venues.

The next building due for transformation was Building C, which is set to become The Life Factory – a space for innovation, enterprise and creativity. This project is part of the Glastonbury Town Investment Plan, set to be funded by the Glastonbury Town Deal investment. Thanks to the Accelerator Funding, the first phase of the restoration is now complete – making the building watertight, safe and structurally sound.

Extensive renovations have been carried out, including vital repairs to the roof, first floor and stairs. The public toilets have been greatly improved, and new toilets built for the planned youth zone.

While the character of the Victorian building is being preserved, Phase One has prepared it for life in the 21st century and beyond. An energy-efficient air-source heat pump will keep emissions (and energy bills) low, and the lift planned for Phase Two will ensure that The Life Factory is accessible to everyone in the community.

How was this funded?

£250,000 of the investment was government funded following a successful bid last year from the Glastonbury Town Deal Board, resulting in an early release of £500,000 of the Towns Fund money.

This Accelerator Funding was made available to each of the 101 towns selected by the government to work towards a Town Deal, for investment in capital projects that would have an immediate impact and help places ‘build back better’ in the wake of Covid-19.

The project received match-funding of £50,000 via grants from two Clarks Trusts.

Project Gallery

Why was this work required?

The building had deteriorated significantly over the years. It had been vandalised, the ridge tiles stolen and many of the windows broken. Part of the roof had collapsed, and the first floor was rotten. In short, it was neither safe nor weathertight.

The funding paid for urgent repair work to ensure the building’s future, preventing it from falling into an even greater state of disrepair.

The renovations provided much-needed employment during the pandemic and have not only repaired Building C but also made it viable as a 21st century working building.

What are the benefits for the local community?

Thanks to the hard work of local contractors and community volunteers, a section of this historical building is now safe, sound and watertight. While it has a rich history, it now also has a promising future. A highly visible site, which is of great importance to the town, is being restored and protected for the next generation.

Ultimately, the project is about community as much as bricks and mortar. Phase One created job opportunities for local workers at a very challenging time, and Phase Two will see more local people employed to bring life back into this old factory.

More than 150 years ago, Beckery Village produced numerous quality goods to be distributed across the UK. Sir Edmund Hilary’s boots were made here, as were Muhammad Ali’s boxing gloves and WWII pilots’ jackets. In a few years, The Life Factory will once again be contributing to the local economy, giving designers and artisans the chance to build viable businesses, and the young people of Glastonbury space to socialise, learn and be inspired.

Who was involved?

The Glastonbury Town Deal Board successfully bid for the £500k Accelerator Funding, which was used to finance this and four other projects in the town. This funding was made available by the government to all 101 of the Town Deal areas, to address issues arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mendip District Council was the accountable body, and the project was managed and delivered by the Red Brick Building Centre Ltd.

Local contractors and suppliers were employed on the renovations, and numerous volunteers generously gave time and expertise to support the project.

Local companies and contractors involved in the redevelopment included:

  • Ian Hobbs Technical Services Ltd
  • Mendip Fire and Safety Ltd
  • Red Brick Building Centre Ltd