Richardson’s Yard

I remember Richardson’s Yard well from the days that it was under the control of Mr Richardson, the well-known local scrap metal dealer whose firm, G. E. Richardson & Sons, is still thriving in the adjoining industrial unit. The yard was previously home to huge containers for scrap iron and steel, beside which heavy sash window weights were placed which Mr Richardson bought for £1 apiece.

Richardson’s Yard has been cleared and prepared for the arrival of 36 shipping containers. After years of travel around the world, potentially by ship, lorry and train, each 40ft container has been converted into a new home in an exciting new project by BHT and QED Estates. I was invited by Andy Winter from BHT for the arrival of the first batch of containers.

The first thing that I noticed about the site, just up from Preston Circus in Brighton, was the remains of the Cobbler’s Thumb pub. The pub was owned by Brighton & Hove City Council apparently, and demolished for structural reasons. Whatever the reason, its empty site is now a great place to store a workmen’s portacabin.

Ross Gilbert from QED told me that the shipping containers are all coming to Brighton via the Tilbury Docks. 30 will be located at the rear of the site over five storeys with six per storey. On the right-hand side, six units will be arranged across three storeys with two per storey. Containers above ground level will need balconies and steps. A contractor called REDS10 will be carrying out much of the work. I have nothing but respect for the drivers of the lorries who have been reversing into Richardson’s Yard, and the crane operators who then have to lift the units into place.

Planning permission for the scheme, which was granted in April, is of a temporary nature and has been limited to five years. If the reception is anything like that of the popular Keetwonen development in Amsterdam, this will no doubt be extended. Keetwonen consists of over 1,000 units and has been an absolute hit with students.

When I left site, there was still much to be done. 31 containers were still to arrive. Once fixed together, services will be installed and a green roof added. The work of local graffiti artist Paul Barlow will grace the top two storeys, which are high enough to be seen from some distance away.