Anyone familiar with Birmingham will know The Custard Factory – its location, history and importance to the City.
The Custard Factory is Birmingham’s creative quarter. Just 800 paces from the Bull Ring this 15-acre sprawl of riverside factories was built 100 years ago by Sir Alfred Bird, the inventor of custard. At one time he had a thousand people making the stuff. But by the early 1980s it had long since lost its mysterious appeal and the factories fell derelict.
In 1988 developers began to restore the buildings and announced their intention to lease the studios, workshops, spaces and shops to the best of Birmingham’s young creative talent – there was an instant rush and since then a whole new inner city neighbourhood has emerged – intricate, fine grained and threaded by green spaces, fountains and sculpture. Now, more than 5,000 people work in The Custard Factory Quarter and its surrounding area.
The Custard Factory Quarter is now home to a dynamic community of creative and digital enterprises, independent retailers and a thriving independent music scene. Among other facilities are a theatre, cafés, corporate and social events spaces, art galleries, educational space, TV studios and a series of dramatic public open spaces. The Guardian has raved about it and called it “the UK’s most surprising creative quarters.”
I have been lucky to be able to secure a studio here as spaces are now becoming very limited. The studio in Scott House overlooks the fountain pool in the square – a large, beautiful bright studio with vistas over the city and light to die for, it also overlooks the menacing iron dragon which climbs the wall opposite.
And I am thrilled to be part of it – in my first week here I have talked to a neighbour who is a long standing resident and who has photographed movie stars, music moguls, famous artists and international sports personalities; witnessed film crews set up (and film) outside my front door and enjoyed live music. It is also home to The Gadget Show, I mean – how cool is that?!