The Old Vinyl Factory - GreenBlue Urban

The Old Vinyl Factory


With over 100 years of history in the making, The Old Vinyl Factory - as it’s now known - located in Hayes, West London has a wonderful story to tell. Originally built in 1907 the then Gramophone Company started to make its name, not only from producing gramophones, to which Captain Scott used during his Antarctic voyage but also manufacturing 78 rpm records for the record label His Master’s Voice (HMV). The iconic logo of a Jack Russell called Nipper listening to a gramophone is still renowned to this day.

Going from strength to strength, expansion was necessary, and the services of Architecture firm Wallis, Gilbert & Partners were secured. This company were later acclaimed for their work on Victoria Coach Station and the Hoover Building, both in London. Their designs were innovative for the time; all the three monumental buildings being open plan inside, with reinforced concrete floors, plenty of natural light and an art deco flair.

The best was yet to come; in 1932 the Gramophone Company merged with its competitor Columbia – creating EMI. With in-house Research & Development – The Central Research Laboratory - the breakthrough was made into high-definition TV and stereo sound securing the world’s first stereo recording. Along with pioneering the airborne radar for the second world war, technology had certainly triumphed.

Swinging into the sixties many great music artists (including an unknown Liverpool band!) signed for the label, with every chart success produced and digitally mastered in Hayes. Further well-known UK artists were to follow over the next two decades, keeping EMI at the forefront of British music; at its peak, the plant had 22,000 employees!

Saddened to say, this didn’t last; the record was no longer the preferred choice for music: the cassette was born, and the Walkman was the must-have new gadget. Included a link for those too young to remember, think clunky box clipped to your belt, flimsy felt earphones, sometimes donned with leg warmers and roller boots – (Retro 80’s).

With operations moving away from Hayes many of the factory buildings were left empty, having a devasting effect to the local community. Thankfully the site was purchased by property developer U+I who are visionaries in regeneration, seeing the huge potential with the expansive site.

Renamed The Old Vinyl Factory, Architects Studio Egret West were instructed to reimagine the entire site for the digital age: providing sustainable development for the future whilst preserving its famous historical value.

In 2011 a £250 million masterplan was submitted to Hillingdon Council to cover the 17 Acres of regeneration, with emphasis on placemaking. Plans included 642 new homes, 550,000 sq ft of office space, 70,000sq ft of retail and leisure space including a cinema, cafes, restaurants and a climbing centre. Central to this and in keeping with past innovation the Central Research Laboratory building was restored in partnership with Brunel University; the hub will be a spearhead for manufacturing magnates using the latest technology supporting entrepreneurs and start-ups.

With such a vast site to soften, in 2018 GreenBlue Urban was honoured to supply tree planting products to contractor Landscape 2000 for phase 2 development. Products included RootSpace 600, Geonet, Root Management, RootRain Urban’s and Arborvent’s. All will assist the carefully selected trees in the hard and soft landscape to thrive by permitting uncompacted healthy aerated soil, carefully directing roots from paved surfaces and utilities, as well as ensuring regular irrigation in the crucial early planting stages.

The landscaping of the once again iconic site plays testament to the vision of U+I who aptly use the Reimagined & Remastered slogan for this unique development.

“The scheme has completely rejuvenated a previously underutilised yet culturally significant site while delivering hundreds of much needed new homes and jobs for the Hayes community. – Richard Upton Chief Development officer U+I

Congratulations to all involved a fantastic example of collaboration with a clear vision from the outset. The site will continue to flourish and once again be the hub of Hayes as it was some 100 years ago.

Discover more here.  
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