Inner courtyard of the former W. Puffer Hosiery Works (built 1911) in Druid Street, Hinckley, which forms part of an ongoing conservation initiative by Hinckley & Bosworth council. Hinckley is a largely unravaged market town in Leicestershire, was once a key centre for the manufacture of hosiery products before cheaper imports forced all but a handful of these factories to close for the last time.
Fortunately the significance of these wonderful buildings has not been lost on local people or the council and real efforts are being made to preserve as much as possible whilst finding new uses for the buildings in a more modern context.
Whilst factories and industrial sites may lack the integrity of many town centre buildings with impressive fascades, these sites form part of the local landscape, are often cherished and beautiful in their own right. The Druid Street area has changed little in the last 100 years. Cities such as Coventry failed to recognise what was being lost in the name of 'urban regeneration' with disastrous consequences, but clearly Hinckley & Bosworth council have taken a far more cautious approach to redevelopment and should be applauded for it.
This is surely a perfect example of a town that not only values what it has, it has the foresight to preserve such buildings, remarkable when you consider how many industrial sites across the country have been lost to stark modern developments. It is unclear how the project may be affected by the economic crisis.
Other areas worth seeing include Baptist Walk which runs to one side of the former Bodycote factory (see http://www.360cities.net/image/bodycote-factory-hinckley)
Today, there is a 'Hinckley Hosiery Heritage Trail' where visitors to the town can explore the area's industrial past. I hope that in time, Hinckley can hang on to, and restore the plethora of small factories along Druid Street, retaining the character of the area, help boost the town's potential as a tourist attraction, and preserve an important part of Hinckley's history. Ten out of ten and definately worth a visit!
Sepia panorama. For more information about the Hinckley panoramas, contact Ralph Ames at Virtual Midlands