Cleve Workshops: 83 days later

First in a row of 16 workers’ studios designed by the nominatively brilliant Reginald Minton Taylor in 1895, and listed a century later, 1 Cleve Workshops has probably seen better days. But three months of rehabilitation sees the place back in half-decent health — not only safe for visitors, but positively welcoming of them. Please step this way.

Work on the workshop is complete. Door back on hinges. Holes in wall filled in. Dusted down, scrubbed up, given a lick of something not quite grey and not quite white. In short, ready — for filling with garments, half-finished garments, patterns, cloth, and the few dozen other accoutrements of making. Filling it mightn’t take too long. It is very small. And rather than lurch into estate-agent lingo, over instead to English Heritage …

Yellow brick. Low pitched roof to eaves. One storey. Each workshop has wide door to right, planked with upper part glazed; small panes; glazing bars. Above and to left of the door further glazing; small panes and glazing bars. Party walls project above the roofline between the units. An integral part of the pioneering Boundary Street Estate.”

So, built 1895, listed 1988, and nerve-centre of the country’s biggest ever but failed bank-note forgery in 2006, Cleve is now home to S.E.H Kelly. It is handily round the corner from plenty of places: the post-ironic flat-white-strewn environs of Calvert Avenue, Shoreditch High Street, Kingsland Road, Columbia Road and Brick Lane, the greater Hoxton region, and Old Street. Five minutes from most places in East London™ in fact.

If ever you find yourself tired or faintly dissatisfied in or around any of the above — and even if you don’t — please drop in. Eyeball garments, fondle fabrics, idly browse or chew cud for as long as you like. Openness is a big part of the workshop’s new openness; there’s nothing off limits (save going upstairs, forbidden on grounds of safety) — so you can see garments made last month, last week, or next week. Try them on if you like. And while you’re at it, you can have a look at which cloths have come in from which mills (at time of writing a few metres of herringbone linens from Ireland) or help fathom patterns.

S.E.H Kelly at 1 Cleve Workshops, London: open by appointment and some weekends.