Leatherworks factory built in 1800s set to become new apartments in Northampton town centre

A former leatherworks factory in Northampton town centre looks set to be converted into new apartments.

Tuesday, 15th October 2019, 6:05 pm
The former factory of Dickens Bros pictured in 1889
The former factory of Dickens Bros pictured in 1889

The old Dickens Brothers building will be turned into 25 one-bedroom flats if councillors on Northampton Borough Council’s planning committee follow advice from officers to approve the scheme.

The factory, sandwiched in a courtyard between Kettering Road, St Michael’s Road and Dunster Road, was built in the late 1800s as part of Dickens Bros’ expansion from its original premises in Victoria Street. Workers prepared leather for the shoe industry in the town’s industrial heyday, but the company was dissolved following voluntary liquidation last month (September 2019).

It is understood the property has been vacant for two years and had been marketed for commercial purposes since June 2018 without any success. Applicants Elsevier Group Ltd signed a mortgage deed with Lloyds Bank for the property in August 2017.

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The former Dickens Bros leatherworks factory is just off Kettering Road in the town centre

After decades as a workplace it is set to follow many of Northampton’s former factories in becoming new homes for residents, with conservation officers at the borough council saying the conversion is acceptable as a means of ‘securing a viable future for the building’.

A report which will be read by councillors at the meeting next Tuesday (October 22) states that the property is in a ‘poor state of repair’ with considerable work required to bring the building up to standard.

The application would remove a dormer addition and a single-storey front projection to ‘better reveal the historic form of the original building’. It would also include window alterations and new doorways for the ground floor. The homes would be accessed through the current entrance, an ‘attractive archway’ on Kettering Road that leads to the courtyard.

The application is considered acceptable on parking and highway safety grounds despite acknowledgement that there would be a shortfall of 11 parking spaces.

The former factory is circled in red, pictured in relation to St Michael's Road and Kettering Road

Conservation officers at the borough council added: “The building is part of a significant group of industrial buildings within the Boot and Shoe Quarter Conservation Area that make a positive contribution to its character and appearance of the area.”

The factory has been empty for a couple of years
Dickens Bros Ltd. staff in a picture taken outside the factory on June 1, 1949