Vulcan Works in Northampton could be ‘centre for leather’

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A town centre building could be taken over by the University of Northampton to be used as a centre for leather conservation.

Professor Nick Petford, the vice chancellor, revealed the proposal at a meeting celebrating the various building projects that come under the Northampton Alive umbrella.

He said: “There are proposals in place to make the vulcan works buildings a ‘centre for leather’.”

Although the university could not give any details yesterday, it was confirmed that the facility will be similar to the The Leather Conservation Centre, whose specially designed building was opened in 1997 on the university’s Park Campus, which is set to make way for housing in 2018.

It offers a conservation and restoration service including books and other archival materials of historic, cultural and artistic importance made wholly or partly of leather.

Clients, both national and international, include museums, historic house owners, cathedrals and libraries.

Vulcan Works is in Guildhall Road and the buildings comprise a disused iron works and several run-down buildings.

A £10.8m project to bring them back into use is at the heart of plans to create a Cultural Quarter in Northampton.

The buildings, off Fetter Street and Angel Street, were central to the town’s shoe trade.

Northampton Borough Council has previously said a managed workspace will be created there for up to 100 businesses, sustaining 400 jobs over 10 years.

The Vulcan Works was built in 1875 for engineering company Mobbs & Co and was later turned into a leather warehouse.

The building has been largely empty since the late 1970s.

It is considered “one of the best surviving engineering works for the production of boot and shoe industry machinery”, according to its Grade II listing.

Previously, plans have been discussed by councillors to move the Museum of Leathercraft somewhere into the Cultural Quarter area.