Natasha Nightingale hopes her new venture will revive – at least for the time being – the once busy workshops and offices that are due eventually for demolition to make way for new housing.
Ms Nightingale and fellow artists have taken three floors of Brake Shear House: on the ground floor items for sale include restored retro and vintage furniture; downstairs is the woodcraft section producing tables, chairs and chopping boards; and upstairs is a ceramics studio.
Other attractions include Tarot reading, reflexology and Reiki healing.
“This is a fabulous historic location and just the place to open an emporium for a collaboration of unique artists,” said Ms Nightingale.
Last summer, Shanly Homes, which purchased Brake Shear House from developers Wrenbridge, announced a temporary reprieve for the site and have re-let rooms and workshops on short-term leases.
Steve Mellor, head of planning for Shanly Homes, said he hoped new ventures like Nightingales Emporium would succeed and hopefully find new premises once planning approval has been obtained for demolition and the construction of new homes and offices.
“We are currently working through a number of issues such as drainage, and problems over the right to light of neighbouring properties, but we hope to be ready to submit new plans in early 2018, and if permission is obtained, we would hope to go ahead with construction sometime in 2019.”
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the current reprieve was extended and Brake Shear House had a new lease of life
Wrenbridge obtained permission to build 32 flats and eight semi-detached houses on the Brake Shear House site, but new architects have been appointed by Shanly Home which is looking at other options for a mix of homes and offices.
Nightingales Emporium opened in time for the Christmas trade and Ms Nightingale has high hopes for her venture.
“Everyone knows the story of Florence Nightingale. Our mission at the emporium is similar: we want to care and sell unloved furniture and give other artists and entrepreneurs an outlet.
“Upstairs Candy Ward’s ceramics studio is offering pottery classes for beginners. Downstairs is the woodcraft section run by Louis Dalton-Brown, who is a tree surgeon and who uses locally-sourced wood to produce chairs, tables and chopping boards.”
Ms Nightingale said she and her colleagues had a great buzz from bringing Brake Shear House back to life.
“This was the original site of Barnet’s Victorian swimming baths. And some of the rooms in Brake Shear House were recording studios where the likes of Elton John, the Spice Girls and Buzzcocks did some of their early recordings.
“Brake Shear House is part of Barnet’s history and although we only have a temporary lease, who knows. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the current reprieve was extended and Brake Shear House had a new lease of life?”