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The Pearoom in Heckington was built in 1870 by the

Great Northern Railway Company and shortly afterwards was leased to the internationally renowned seed firm of Charles Sharpe of Sleaford. Sharpe used it as a

Pea Room in Heckington

pea-sorting warehouse right up until 1961.

The History and Origins of The National Centre for Craft & Design From Small Seeds...

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ocally grown peas were brought to the Pearoom by horse and cart with peas from further afield being delivered by rail for sorting and then exporting. In the 1970s, with the help of Government grants, fundraising activities, hard work by many volunteers and leadership by the Heckington Village Trust, the Pearoom was converted into a heritage, craft and tourism centre for the village. It was operated by the Village Trust, a team of dedicated volunteers, until a licence was granted by the trust for North Kesteven District Council. Thus North Kesteven District Council began a relationship with craft makers and designers. When the lease expired a decision of what to do with the craft centre needed to be taken. The chosen option was to develop the old Hubbard and Phillips Seed Warehouse in Sleaford, which was disused and in poor condition.

The Pearoom information provided by Pat Banister keeper of Heckington Village Trust Archives.


In 1938 building work

began on the Hubbard and Phillips Seed Warehouse,

The original exposed steel can be seen in the main gallery of the main building

located in Navigation Yard,

Sleaford, and was completed in 1939. The yard, including the old Sleaford Navigation Office, now Navigation

House, was bought by seed

merchants Messrs. Hubbard & Phillips, who operated from the 1890s.

Hubbard and Phillips Seed Warehouse

The extension

“It used to be a Seed Warehouse. It still is” T

he steel framed four-storey building was of normal brick construction with wooden floors designed to accommodate the substantial floor loadings from the processed seed. The roof was of a flat construction with a brick parapet running the full four sides of the building. Two pea cleaning machines of differing sizes were installed and at a later date the original extract pipe work was replaced by cyclones to enable the dust extract to be collected at the base of the building.

Architects, Frank Shaw Associates, were appointed and produced an exciting and innovative scheme which would see the architectural heritage of the main building maintained while new sections were added. The main contractor was Clegg Construction of Nottingham, working alongside Peter Roe of Thornton Firkin and Alan Bothamley of Civil Engineers Bothamley Ellington Partnership.

The four-storey building had one floor removed to create a double height main gallery at first floor level with the original exposed steel beams. A small mezzanine At times, upwards of 300/400 tons of peas were stored in sacks throughout the floor space, now a learning zone is the only various floors – and it is said one particular reminder of the floor that was removed. On gentleman used to carry 16 stone sacks the roof of the original building a roof gallery was added restoring the building to four between floors. floors. This gallery is flanked by two viewing galleries which provide a superb view of As trade reduced the business closed Sleaford’s roofscape to the west and along in 1972 and was subsequently used as the Sleaford Navigation to Haverholme Lock a storage area by A. Hatcher and Sons. and beyond to the east. A new extension has North Kesteven District Council took on a been added to provide the lift, staircase and 125 year lease on Navigation Yard which a craft workshop on the fourth floor to the included the Hubbard and Phillips Seed Warehouse for a regeneration project which north and a fire escape has been added to the south. would see a new home for the Pearoom.

The approach taken by Frank Shaw Associates has been sympathetic and reflects the industrial heritage of the old building. Visitors will be impressed with the original exposed steel work combined with the use of modern materials such as the stainless steel architraves and lighting panels in the main gallery to reflect the building’s past.


The four-storey arts and exhibition centre

was handed over from the main contractor in early July 2003 and then followed an

active period of necessary fit out for the official opening by Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal on 7th October.

Councillor Mrs Marion Brighton, OBE, The Princess Royal and Geoff Wright

The Substantial Building T

he redevelopment of the Hub formed one of the major projects of the seven years Sleaford Pride Regeneration,that began in 1996. This substantial project cost £2.4 million and started on 17th June 2002. The result was the largest dedicated contemporary craft exhibition gallery in England recognised as a national development by the Arts Council of England in 2003.

The Sleaford and District Civic Trust recognised the Hub for the quality of its Some say the Hub was taken from the building work and design. The Green Hubbards family name to commemorate Organisation has also awarded a Silver the building’s origins. The Hub was a Green Apple Civic Pride Award to the significant part of the very successful centre. Both of these awards are given for Sleaford Pride project led by Project projects that enhance the environment and Officer, Geoff Wright - it was the “Hub” of Sleaford Pride. In 2011, the Hub in Sleaford give a sense of civic pride. will launch as The National Centre for Craft & Design and the use of the term “Hub” will The final stage of the Navigation Yard project was the repair, restoration and cease. re-use of Navigation House enabling visitors to learn about the history of The origins in the Pearoom and the old Sleaford Navigation, and also the creation Hubbard and Phillips Seed Warehouse of craft workshops. will not be forgotten. When visitors arrive

Navigation House

The refurbishment started on 17th June 2002

at The National Centre for Craft & Design they will be greeted with the words “This used to be a seed warehouse. It still is”. Funding for the refurbishment was made available through European Funding, East Midlands Development Agency, Lincolnshire County Council, North Kesteven District Council and the Sleaford Pride Regeneration Partnership.

The transformation of the former Hubbard and Phillips Seed Warehouse to the Hub, included funding for commissioning art projects. Projects included the leather plaque in the entrance with gold leaf lettering by Tracey Routledge which states “This used to be a seed warehouse. It still is”. Exhibition benches produced by Electric Wig are still in use today. Sam Buxton, designer and producer of Mikroworld, produced a laser cut stainless steel piece, which is currently out on loan. Andreas Lang and Kathrine Bohme produced the courtyard piece, ‘The Sampler’, a structure of seats, tables and canopies.


A Personal Collection of Vivienne Westwood Shoes

Art of the stitch

Bathing Beauties

Hub Exhibitions

What is Craft?

The first exhibition ran from 13th October 2003 to 18th January 2004 An exhibition of British Contemporary Craft at The Hub, with objects chosen by makers, artists, designers and commentators which included Alan Titchmarsh and TV Presenter, Jon Snow. Further Exhibitions Followed

And… More Recently

Art of the STITCH – the Embroiders’ Guild’s sixth biennial open international exhibition featuring stitched work or work derived from stitch, presented with Coats Crafts UK.

A Personal Collection of Vivienne Westwood Shoes – this show featured an opulent display of footwear by the doyenne of British fashion, Dame Vivienne Westwood, best known for the creation of punk fashion with Malcolm McLaren in the 1970s.

Bathing Beauties – a Hub curated exhibition organised by lead artist, Michael Trainor that evolved from the Bathing Beauties project – www.bathingbeauties.org.uk This exhibition is on tour within the UK and overseas, and a current exhibition can be seen in Mablethorpe where there is an annual Bathing Beauties Festival. Denim the fabric of our lives – another Hub curated exhibition, created in partnership with Val Beattie and Penny Alfrey - School of Art and Design, Loughborough University.

Since the opening

Guitars made in Britain played all over the world – an exhibition jointly curated by the Hub and distinguished musician, Gordon Giltrap. The show celebrated British guitars from the 1940s and featured performances from Gordon Giltrap and Newton Faulkner

of the Hub, many

successful exhibitions

How Manga took over the world – the unique graphic art form of Manga was explored through its manifestation in everyday life in the 21st Century. Curated by Urbis, Manchester.

have been curated.

What is Craft?

Claire Morgan About Time – Claire Morgan’s installations incorporated natural organisms and manmade materials, insects, leaves, fruit and seeds, but also glass shards and torn bits of polythene which were suspended in mid-air by their thousands, each entity attached to one thread.

Current Exhibitions Showing at the Hub Metro-Boulot-Dodo ‘Autumn’ – FOUR SEASONS is a hugely ambitious series of cross-disciplinary work that looks to the seasons to reflect different stages of life. The Hub is collaborating with other Lincolnshire One Venues to stage ‘Autumn’. Formula Fashion – innovative design inspired by motor sport.

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And Finally… The Future How Manga took over the world

Guitars made in Britain played all over the world

Metro-Boulot-Dodo ‘Autumn’

Claire Morgan About Time

Denim the fabric of our lives

The commitment and investment North Kesteven District Council has made to the arts has resulted in artsNK and The National Centre for Craft & Design being recognised by Arts Council England as exemplars. In 2010, the Arts Council announced that The National Centre for Craft & Design, artsNK and Design Factory would become a National Portfolio Organisation. A new chapter will begin for the former seed warehouse in April 2012 when it embarks on the next part of its journey together with the two other organisations.

The Hub - A walk through history  

A brief look at where The Hub has come from

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