The Grade II* listed Boiler Shop and adjacent 20 South Street were a focal parts of the Robert Stephenson and Co engineering works and with it the globally significant development of the railway locomotive and its commercial production. Built in the 1860’s, the building was saved from dereliction by an initial phase of conservation work undertaken in the 1990’s and early 2000’s.
Under new ownership the building then found itself at the centre of a significant new mixed use development – The Stephenson Quarter. Successful ‘meanwhile use’ and pop-up events in the building had provided proof of concept for the developers to pursue its fulltime use as an event space and venue with ancillary office space in 20 South Street.
In order to function properly as a contemporary venue, the building required the addition of key facilities such as toilets, catering, sound and staging. The design strategy was to conserve the existing fabric which gives the building its ‘texture’ and engages visitors, while at the same time, making simple, contemporary design interventions to incorporate the new facilities. Bold sculptural elements which are comfortable in the large volume of the former industrial space were included, such as the new steel spiral stair and ventilation ductwork.
The Boilershop opened for business in late 2016 playing host to a wide range of events with audiences of up to 1,000 people. A successful and sustainable use has been provided for the building, helping to ensure the future of an important piece of our Victorian industrial heritage.
- Photos: Alex Telfer and Richard Kenworthy