Fort Dunlop is the common name of the original tyre factory
A factory or manufacturing plant is an industrial building where laborers manufacture goods or supervise machines processing one product into another. Most modern factories have large warehouses or warehouse-like facilities that contain heavy equipment used for assembly line production...
and main office of Dunlop Rubber
Dunlop Rubber was a company based in the United Kingdom which manufactured tyres and other rubber products for most of the 20th century. It was acquired by BTR plc in 1985. Since then, ownership of the Dunlop trade-names has been fragmented.-Early history:...
in the Erdington
Erdington is a suburb northeast of Birmingham city centre, England and bordering Sutton Coldfield. It is also a council constituency, managed by its own district committee...
district of Birmingham
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London, with a population of 1,036,900 , and lies at the heart of the West Midlands conurbation, the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a...
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...
. It was established in 1917, and by 1954 the entire factory area employed 10,000 workers. At one time it was the world's largest factory, when it employed 3,200 workers.
Fort Dunlop, the main building of the former factory area, is next to the M6 motorway
The M6 motorway runs from junction 19 of the M1 at the Catthorpe Interchange, near Rugby via Birmingham then heads north, passing Stoke-on-Trent, Manchester, Preston, Carlisle and terminating at the Gretna junction . Here, just short of the Scottish border it becomes the A74 which continues to...
, near to junction 5. It is a Grade A locally listed building. It was designed by Sidney Stott and W.W. Gibbings in the 1920s.
Dunlop Tyres company now occupies a small part of the building.
HistoryThe Dunlop Rubber Co. Ltd was set up in Birmingham in 1901 to manufacture Dunlop tyres, initially for bicycles and later for motor vehicles. The First World War initiated a huge expansion in the demand for solid tyres for lorries, and the Fort Dunlop factory was built in 1916 on a 120-hectare site on the east side of Birmingham. Post-war, the motor industry grew and Dunlop was well placed to supply the demand for tyres. In the 1970s it was still the largest tyre factory outside the United States, however, the increased number of foreign cars imported into Britain led to a decline in demand, the company was sold in the 1980s and large-scale tyre production ceased at Fort Dunlop.
Dunlop Tyres is a British company owned 75% by Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and 25% by Sumitomo Rubber Industries, which bought the right to sell Dunlop-branded road tyres....
continues to produce specialised vintage, motorcycle and touring car tyres on the site.
RedevelopmentThe company Urban Splash acquired the building and the 4.02 hectares (9.93 acres) of land from English Partnerships
English Partnerships was the national regeneration agency for England, performing a similar role on a national level to that fulfilled by Regional Development Agencies on a regional level...
in 1999 and started work developing proposals in conjunction with Advantage West Midlands, the regional development agency who funded the reclamation of the land. Urban Splash possess the building by a 999 year lease from Advantage West Midlands.
The Fort Dunlop building, derelict for twenty years (with the exterior used as advertising space), has been redeveloped into an office and retail space with an adjoining Travelodge
Travelodge Hotels Limited is a private company operating in the hotels and hospitality industry throughout the United Kingdom. Branded simply as Travelodge or Travelodge UK, it is the second largest in the budget hotel sector and third biggest hotel chain in the UK by number of bedrooms...
hotel. Work on the redevelopment commenced in December 2004. It now has 300000 square feet (27,871 m²) of office space within the main building as well as recreational leisure space. There are also 1,150 basement and surface car parking spaces. The developers were Urban Splash
Urban Splash is a British company which regenerates decaying industrial warehouses, mills, Victorian terraced houses and other buildings. These buildings have mainly been converted into housing...
and the architects were Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...
-based Hazel Rounding of shedkm. The landscape designer for the building's setting was Martha Schwartz
Martha Schwartz, born 1950, is an American landscape architect. Her background is in the fine arts as well as landscape architecture, and her projects range from private to urban scale. She studied at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and graduated from the University of Michigan...
By March 2005, all windows and poor quality extensions were removed to reveal the shell. The steel structure which would house the 100-bed Travelodge hotel began construction and the largest advertisement hoarding in the world at that time was constructed on the front of the building. The steel structure was completed in June 2005 along with the roof structure. The concrete was added to the steel structure two months later. They were manufactured offsite and transported to the building where they were fitted into place. They contained the circular holes on one side to allow for the circular windows. By the end of 2005, the windows were being added to the inside of the building. The outside structure was left as it was and the glass structure was built behind it. The assembly work had been completed to the adjacent structure and work had begun to paint it dark blue with a sign saying "FORT DUNLOP" added to the top of the structure by March 2006. The sign is illuminated at night
The skyline signage, with its programmable, RGB LED illumination resulted in three separate industry awards for ASG, the company that designed, manufactured and installed the structures.
By June 2006, the windows had been fitted to the Travelodge and the hotel opened to the public. Window work on the inside of the old building was being completed and the floor layouts were being defined.
Fort Dunlop opened by a ceremony on December 1, 2006. The roof was covered by soil and grass, the largest such grass roof in the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...
; it provides natural insulation and a wildlife reserve.
In August 2006, Urban Splash announced that three retail companies were to move to Fort Dunlop; house accessory specialist Dwell, relocating from the Custard Factory
The Custard Factory is an arts and media production centre in Birmingham, England .Located on the redeveloped site of the Bird's Custard factory in the industrial district of Digbeth, it is home to a community of businesses, primarily with an artistic and media slant, but also including...
, Snap Galleries and a Birmingham-based coffee outlet named The Daily Grind Coffee Company. Another company, Boxer, a design consultancy, was announced as the first tenant, relocating from their base in Coleshill
Coleshill is a market town in the North Warwickshire district of Warwickshire, England, taking its name from the River Cole. It has a population of 6,343 and is situated east of Birmingham.-Location:...
ArchitectureThe early structure is of concrete, clad to a steel frame. Upon redevelopment, it was found that the steel frame had moved no more than 2 mm (0.078740157480315 in), a reflection of the quality of construction. The building is 52 metres (171 ft) deep. The south side measures 24 metres (79 ft) in height and 130 metres (427 ft) in width. The extension housing the Travelodge hotel extends 170 metres (558 ft) from the building, and has a width of 8 metres (26 ft). The northern facade is of slightly different architecture than the remainder of the building as it was damaged during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...
by bombing raids by the Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....
A circular light well was constructed from the roof to the atrium at the reception, allowing natural light to illuminate the middle of the building. At each floor, the light well is lined with steel to represent the industrial heritage of the building.