Clay Pipe Factory

A Brisk WalkLength : 4 Minutes 57 Seconds

A happy new beginning

Not so much a happy ending as a happy new beginning. There’s new life for the old clay pipe factory, now reborn as artists’ workshop and exhibition space. It is a central part of the Barras regeneration.

The factory boomed from its opening in the 1876s. At its peak of production, the factory had around 900 workers at any one time producing upwards of 16,000 tobacco pipes per day. Each floor housed different stages of production: from pipe moulding to hand packaging in wooden boxes with hay lining.

Then in the late 1940s a young Marlon Brando and similar icons propelled the widespread consumption of the rolled cigarette, and with it the downfall of clay pipe demand worldwide.

The factory closed in 1950. A fire around the same time in the connecting chimney-clad building led to its demolition. Each of the three 4-storey factory structures separated permanently.

Now, with funding to make the B listed building wind and watertight, this splendidly ornate Victorian factory can be removed from the Buildings At Risk Register.

Inside, the atmospheric old building is coming back to life. Let’s have a look with Johnny then wander round the rapidly changing area with Shona…

Download the full A Brisk Walk: Buildings at Risk for an architecture tour with a difference