Sitting beside the canal on Limehouse Cut, the Spratt’s Patent Building was constructed in 1899 to churn out cans of Bonio dog food to the masses, as the UK’s first commercial pet food enterprise. Today, this chunky former factory is home to around 100 live/work units and consequently a large community of creative types; you can hardly move for sculptors, painters and musical maestros.
Converted in the mid 80s, the complex was one of first ‘loft-living’ opportunities in London and retains a flavour of raw authenticity that is simply not present in some of today’s slicker and smaller offerings. It’s nicely augmented with old adverts from the building’s Dog Days displayed in the common parts, as well as the original Spratts Patent Limited sign that’s preserved in whitewashed glory over the red Victorian brickwork.
In an inspired move to help the residents make the transition to friends, a 1500 sq ft communal roof terrace was included as part of the original plan; back then the sky was somewhat naked, but now the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf make a fine addition to the view. Adding yet more to the sense of neighbourliness, everyone has a share of the freehold, making these ‘something in the industry’ folks quite the bunch of artistic-pedigree chums.
And so to Rupert’s apartment, a three-storey live/work space of around 2,000 sq ft, with the significant USP of a professional recording studio – and we mean professional – on the lower floor. It’s properly soundproofed and if you’re looking to set-up your own operation, the equipment is up for negotiation.
Upstairs, a big open-plan living space has a balcony on the canal, a slightly raised dining and kitchen area, plenty of exposed brickwork and, naturally, a spiral staircase leading to the top floor. Here you’ll find three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Along with the waterside balcony, there’s a larger decked area at the back that’s big enough for plenty of people and a barbecue.
“It’s been fantastic living here” says Rupert. “We spent a year looking at various places. I wanted a live/work place with a recording studio and here was a ready-made solution; with no residential impact and no direct neighbours.”
After buying it, Rupert spent about a year gutting and refurbishing the – somewhat unusual – previous design: “You had to go through a gap about 4ft high to get to the mezzanine”. There’s none of that now, and other modern additions like under-floor heating add a bit of 21st century to the factory-high ceilings and industrial crittall windows.
Parking, of course, is essential, and as well as the space included with the apartment, the building has a round 10 visitor bays: music to the ears of clients or friends.
The apartment is for sale at £1.15million