The Custard Factory is Birmingham’s creative quarter. Just 800 paces from the Bull Ring this 15-acre sprawl of riverside factories was built 100 years ago by Sir Alfred Bird, the inventor of custard. At one time he had a thousand people making the stuff. Some even say it helped create the British Empire. But by the early 1980s it had long since lost its mysterious appeal and the factories fell derelict.
We took it over in 1988. We began to restore the buildings and announced open house (and studio) to the best of Birmingham’s young creative talent. The rush to come in was overwhelming. Since then a whole new inner city neighbourhood has emerged – intricate, fine grained and threaded by green spaces, fountains and sculpture. Now, more than 5,000 people work in The Custard Factory Quarter and its surrounding area.
The Custard Factory Quarter is now home to a dynamic community of creative and digital enterprises, independent retailers and a thriving independent music scene. Among other facilities are a theatre, cafés, corporate and social events spaces, art galleries, educational space, TV studios and a series of dramatic public open spaces.