Bats, beer and boiling hot weather – on Thursday, July 6, Alchemy England welcomed their trade customers to the third annual Open Day. The event was also the perfect opportunity for everyone to view their stunning new factory in Leicester and check out all the latest designs.
Their new, second floor showroom was transformed for the occasion into a gothic marketplace and museum filled with rare artefacts from Alchemy’s 40-year history. The displays included original artwork, clay models of jewellery, and discontinued designs which all offered a unique insight into the company’s creative evolution. Members of Alchemy’s design team, including founders Geoff Kayson and Trevor Phillipson, were also on hand to talk about their inspiration behind our favourite pieces over a pint or two of Hobgoblin beer.
While we were admiring the upstairs displays, new pieces were being assembled by Alchemy’s manufacturing team two floors below, and some of their manufacturing secrets were revealed in a short behind-the-scenes film. There was even the opportunity to grab a sneak preview of new licensed items as well as highlights from Alchemy’s Autumn 2017 Collection. We’re not allowed to reveal too much just yet, but keep an eye on the website for some exciting new resin giftware pieces, a new festive jumper, and an eye-catching range of faux leather shoulder bags!
It’s the first time that the jewellery and giftware brand’s new home has been open to the public – the staff finished moving into the converted Industrial Revolution mill overlooking the River Soar at the beginning of 2017.
“We first found the derelict St Mary’s Mill at the beginning of 2016,” explains Geoff Kayson, an Alchemy Designer and Director. “It was decrepit with no interior walls or infrastructure and many of the windows broken, but the mill had played an important role in Leicester’s industrial history. We loved the idea that this site was mentioned in the Domesday Book (a historical survey of Great Britain curated in the 11th century) as a water mill, and it’s still here today.”
Historical documents from 15th century suggest that the mill was originally used for grinding corn and fulling cloth during medieval times. It was rebuilt in 1799 during Leicester’s industrial expansion and was water wheel-driven until at least 1826, becoming a framework knitter’s, manufacturing hosiery and eventually elastic webbing before being abandoned and remaining empty for several years. Now, in the 21st century, the Alchemy team have returned the three-storey building to an industrial space with its exposed beams, cast iron pillars and oak wood floors and now, state of the art facilities for design and hand-cast pewter manufacturing.
“I’m so proud of what we’ve created,” says Kayson. “This is a special place that we can inhabit and bring back to life.”
Words by – Natasha Scharf