Judging by the number of architectural awards that it has already received, few new factories have made such an immediate impact as David Mellor's circular cutlery-making plant at Hathersage in Derbyshire's Peak National Park. The Round Building was completed in 1989 on the site of an old Victorian gasometer amid five acres of woodland splendour, its shape determined not only by the manufacturing process of making cutlery but also by a deep-piled, circular concrete slab which held the main gas holder and could not be removed.
The Mellor factory's previous home was Broom Hall at Sheffield. This could not be developed to accommodate expanding production so Mellor began searching for new premises three years ago. Initially he avoided the National Park but one day he was driving back to Sheffield through the woodlands when he saw a large yellow crane. On investigation he discovered that an old gasworks was being dismantled. He wrote to the gas board and obtained the freehold for the site. He now feels sure that the rural workstyle will be worth the investment. Certainly the quality of the architectural setting reflects the quality of his world-renowned cutlery.
David Earl, managing director of TV2 Communications, is quick to draw attention to the contrast between the modern high-tech industry which his company serves and the old-fashioned, rural setting in which it is based. TV2 Communications designs, manufactures and operates specialised technical equipment for TV programme making, primarily outside broadcast. The company's home is the Old BrewHouse at Castle Ashby in Northamptonshire. Two years ago the company also moved into an adjoining building, the Old Laundry, which now houses Earl's own office.
He will not say how much he has spent on renovating this unusual factory, but admits: "With any old building, unless the conversion work has already been done, it always costs more and takes longer than you thought it would." Not that he regrets it. "Visitors are very impressed by the environment."