Cockpit Arts in Holborn provided inspiration for Richard Ainsworth, the driving force behind Rodhus Art & Design on Hollingdean Road in Brighton.

Until 2010, Horsell Electrics was based within a medium-sized factory on the north side of Hollingdean Road, between the Vogue Gyratory and the railway bridge above. Horsell is a lighting manufacturer and was founded by Richard’s grandfather, Harold Ainsworth. Following the sale of the business to Drallim Industries last year, manufacturing now takes place in Shoreham which has left the Hollingdean Road premises empty. A less ambitious man may well have sold the site to a property developer, but Richard is passionate about manufacturing and is keen to see the site retained as a creative hub

Cockpit Arts provides artists and designers with workshop areas, gallery space and business assistance. That combination of services has proved to be extremely successful and, following discussions with Cockpit, Richard has put in place a similar model in Brighton under the banner ‘Rodhus’, named after a holiday complex in Denmark where he spent time with his family.

Rodhus occupies the entirety of the former lighting factory which offers around 20,000 sq ft of space. The workshop area takes up much of the ground floor where there is also parking and a loading bay. The gallery is on the ground floor too, below a reception area and design library. There are many different spaces dotted around the complex including a single huge room above the workshop area which has sparked interest from the organisers of the Brighton Roller Derby.

Hollingdean began as one of the laines (fields) of the parish of Preston and was developed from the 1890s. It is well known for the council depot and controversial waste transfer station beside railway bridge. Most interesting of all was the municipal abattoir on the same site that operated from 1894 to 1986. The abattoir was formerly the site of the Union Hunt’s kennels which is why Hollingdean Road was originally known as Dog Kennel Road.

Rodhus is due to be officially launched on Thursday 3rd February. All are welcome to attend but the event will be of particular interest to artists and designers who are looking to be part of this new and exciting venture. Momentum is building quickly and Sir Terence Conran has just given his backing – I can’t imagine that there will be spaces left for long. See for details.