Tuesday, 9 March 2010

The sound of silence ...

They say 'silence is golden' but silence is also the sound of a factory no longer manufacturing goods, a factory that is empty of people, a factory that has lost its soul.

My Father, Mr Joseph Adrian Letiere Petit (the fourth generation) always loved the sound of presses thumping away in the factory as it meant a productive Company, the more thumps the better.  For the presses to run you need that magic ingredient - people.  It was those employed in C Brandauer & Co Ltd that gave the building its soul.

When the operators and technicians, office staff and engineers leave a factory for good, the presses, lights and heating are switched off.  All that remains are memories and ghosts.  These are joined by pigeons, weeds and anyone wanting shelter in an old derelict building.  This is the situation in which our old factory finds itself at the moment.

The Brandauer factory building, built by my great, great grandfather and Mr C Brandauer provided employment for hundreds of people and families whilst it was manufacturing pens and pressings for 140 years.  Now it stands forlorn, forgotten and neglected when once it was proud and bustling with people.

I remember walking round from our 'new' factory, just a block away from the old one, on the day we handed the keys over to the new owners.  It seemed unbelievable that I wouldn't walk around that well known Birmingham landmark again in its present form but looked forward to seeing it given a new lease of life.

For nearly 10 years it has stood empty and dejected, with broken windows and the contents from its workshops in a pile in the yard.  Lifeless, broken windows and trees growing out of the roof.  I am pleased my Father did not live to see it in the state it is now.

We need someone with vision and the money to invest in this well loved building and turn back on its lights and fill it with people once again.  Are you the one who could do that?  If I was able I would relish the opportunity of bringing life back to our old factory but alas it is beyond my budget (though I would love to be involved with the person who does take on the project).  What could it be used for - small business units, youth hostel, hall of residence, hotel, industrial units with or without living accomodation, a 'green' project, dance and drama studios, conference centre, creative arts units with a gallery and cafe, a college/training centre, appartments or a museum.  What would you use it for?

Converting the Brandauer building is not an easy option.  Whoever decides to bring it back to life needs great vision and plenty of money as it will be an expensive project, but so worth while.  I'm sure there is someone who will take on this project and once again give my great, great grandfather's and Mr C Brandauer's building back its soul by filling its rooms with that magic ingredient - people.

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