The move to the new campus by the University appears to be moving steadily on and is now looking like it really is a reality. The Leather Industry Advisory Committee, which is a curiously useful body linking industry with the University went for a look at the new site the other day.
For those of you who remember Northampton just over from Derngate, past the Macintosh House you can walk down to the river, crossing a road that if you went left would take you past all the car showrooms and on past Delapre Lake to the A45, and you end up at the Avon site.
Most of the factories around the Avon European HQ have now been levelled and we went onto the roof of the HQ to view the whole site. It is a great location to combine our two current campuses into one new location. The site runs all along the riverside and apparently has space for expansion over many years. A riverside walk will take about ten minutes walk to the Campus and on to the Lake.
At the moment the design of the buildings remains quite a blank sheet but things will have to move quickly to achieve completion for the target 2018. The ICLT held a student competition and some excellent presentations were made. It is clear that the practical training from having a tannery is vital to attracting students and that the updating funded by the Worshipful Company of Leathersellers came in the nick of time to keep it relevant.
The School of the Arts is now deeply involved in the plans for leather and it is exciting to think that both the Fashion School and Leather School can be adjacent on the new site; with podiatry, product design and waste management close by. The new footwear courses have in mind building short courses around them to fit industry requirements and these have been quite successful with leather over the last few years. Although leather will never pull in huge numbers, meaning degree courses will always be expensive to run, these additional courses and services to footwear courses etc. do offer the chance of having the new tannery a continuous hive of activity from basic training to advanced research.
For the leather industry to be looking at building a completely new training tannery in Europe at this time, when most of the news of the last twenty years has been uniformly of decline is a fabulous statement to be able to make. There are a lot of hurdles yet to overcome, and a huge amount of work to do, but I do hope that all alumni will get behind the plans with advice, support and promotion of all the courses at Northampton.
And for those of you who do remember Northampton you can look forward to coming in future to a true University town, not a slightly run down town with a University.
12th March 2014