How Much For Our Heritage?
What Price Heritage? Community Group launches shares on 16th June 2011 in a last attempt to save a historic cutlery factory in the city.
Portland Works, the birthplace of stainless steel cutlery, is currently in a rundown condition, and is threatened with closure and speculative development.
Campaigners are hoping to raise at least £450,000 by selling Community Shares in their project to revitalize the building. The capital will be used to buy the building, with subsequent rental income from its talented tenants financing an exciting programme of renovation. New workshop space will be provided until the building is fully occupied, and the factory will also be used as a centre for training and education for the local community.
Around £100,000 has already been pledged by supporters of the campaign. ‘The aim is to repay all share capital’ said campaign leader, Derek Morton. ‘So when people buy a share, they are effectively making a long-term loan to the Portland Works campaign. It’s a really exciting and ethical way for people to invest their money in the local community’.
The share issue follows hot on the heels of the campaign’s success in April, when they defeated a planning application to convert the grade II* listed factory into bedsits. Having gained cross-party political backing, a legion of staunch supporters, and over 1400 signatures on an online petition, they now hope to make their vision of a community-owned Portland Works a reality.
The launch will be celebrated by a glamorous party at the Works, with live music, entertainment, and refreshments for hundreds of guests.
More About the Campaign to Save Portland Works:
· A century ago, the first stainless steel cutlery was made at Portland Works by Harry Brearley. Brearley paid for this entirely out of his own pocket because his bosses at Firth Brown Steel saw nothing of commercial value, and still less of scientific interest, in his invention. It took years for the commercial potential of his innovation to become apparent, but stainless steel (a term coined by the Portland Works cutlery manager) has since become a household name.
· Today, this Grade 2* listed building is home to a community of over 20 diverse businesses, including metalworkers, engravers, woodworkers, artists and musicians.
· The campaign comprises a group of volunteers, both tenants of Portland Works and local residents.
· The group has formed an Industrial and Provident Society (IPS), allowing them to issue Community Shares in their project to the public. IPSs are run and managed by their members. However, instead of being distributed among members or external shareholders, profits are returned to the community.
· By buying a Community Share, people will be making a longterm loan to the campaign. The team has spent two years carefully preparing a fully costed Business Plan for the site. This makes provision to repay share capital progressively from year 5 of the project, with full repayment over 25 years.
· Once the building has been purchased, rents from the businesses within the Works will be the most important source of regular income. Additional grant aid will be sought from funding bodies to renovate the façade and other key parts of the structure. Several bodies have already expressed a willingness to support the project, including the Architectural Heritage Fund and The Heritage Lottery Foundation.