IN PICTURES: £2.4m restoration of Luton's oldest hat factory finally complete

The £2.4m restoration of Luton's oldest hat factory is finally complete, The Culture Trust Luton has announced.

Friday, 23rd April 2021, 2:08 pm
Updated Friday, 23rd April 2021, 2:10 pm
Project staff outside the carefully restored Hat Works building on Guildford Street

After four years, the Trust’s chairman Nick Gibson was finally handed back the keys to Hat Works on Guildford Street on Friday, April 16.

Hat Works is one of three former hat factories involved a regeneration project to transform them into "inspiring and much-needed" creative workspaces.

The other two sites - Hat House and the Hat Factory arts centre - were completed in 2019.

The site will offer workspace for creative entrepreneurs

The Culture Trust plans to use Hat Works as its entry level option for creative entrepreneurs eager to launch businesses in Luton town centre.

A spokesman from the trust said: "Hat Works will provide a range of workspaces that will support the development of a creative community. Here members can develop ideas, collaborate and benefit from affordable and professional workspace."

The workspaces are envisioned with a "particular focus on young people" and an interior fit out is scheduled early this summer.

Marie Kirbyshaw, chief executive of The Culture Trust, said: “This well-loved old hat factory has been through a long but careful restoration and looks incredible thanks to the generosity of our funders and the skills of a highly specialist team.

Office spaces have been designed to encourage creativity

"We have curated an eclectic mix of decorative and functional design features, restored heritage and added modern functionality.

"Hat Works will inspire and meet the needs of a new generation of creative and digital start-up businesses.”

Hat Works' refurbishment started in 2017 after lying empty and unused since it closed last as a hat factory in 2006. Its restoration work included nearly a year of drying out after the removal of a Himalayan mould.

Luton firm Neville Special Projects carried out the conservation work under the design of Fleet Architects, You & Me and with guidance from Historic England and Luton Borough Council's planning department.