The larger Marine Workshops building at the UTC@harbourside site has been out of bounds to me for the past couple of months while the huge brick walls were being stabilised. Yesterday I was finally allowed in. The space felt vast, both familiar and changed. The steel girders running high up along the top edges of the walls, and the final remaining gantry, were both silhouetted against the sky. Soon this space will be filled with steel supports, concrete, new interior walls, new floors and eventually with people. But for the moment, it was beautiful and stark and empty in the afternoon sun.
The old Marine and Carpenter’s Workshops in Newhaven Harbour have been empty for a long time now but they were once a hive of industrial activity where boats, ferries and even a paddle steamer were maintained and repaired, with the adjacent railway buildings housing their own railway workshops.
The buildings will now have a new lease of life. Renovation and rebuilding will transform this beautiful old building into a new University Technical College for 14-19-year-olds. UTC@Harbourside will specialise in marine and environmental engineering. The partners behind this new school have hired me to document the process of this renovation. For 15 months, I will be taking a weekly journey down the road from Lewes to the coast to watch this old abandoned building emerge as a new place for learning and inspiration.