How The Making Rooms is helping put Blackburn firmly on the creative map!

Published 05th Dec 2023

As far as weeks go, it doesn’t get much better than it did last week for The Making Rooms in Blackburn.

On Sunday, they opened their doors to the Government’s Levelling Up Minister, Jacob Young, who was in Lancashire to officially sign the historic devolution deal.

The former Chemical Engineer tried his hand at a spot of soldering at the Exchange Street creative space while hearing all about the ambitious plans to extend it as part of Blackburn’s planned Tech Innovation Quarter – tapping into new opportunities that the re-location of the National Cyber Force to neighbouring Samlesbury will bring.

And, no sooner had he left, than 15 creative leaders started to arrive from across Europe with Blackburn chosen to host a gathering of the European Creatives Hub Network – showing off all the facility has to offer, and that’s a lot!

As its website says, The Making Rooms is a place where creativity, technology and advanced manufacturing come together in a community facility for use by artists, inventors, students, children and just about everyone else to design and make anything from high-tech products and gadgets to toys, artworks, home decorations and accessibility devices.

Step inside and you’ll find an impressive range of modern fabrication equipment, combining advanced manufacturing with traditional craft processes including 3D printing, laser cutting, electronics, CNC machining, pottery and screen printing, to name but a few.

And the dedicated team there – led by super talented director, Tom Macpherson-Pope – work hard to secure grants to ensure that what they provide can be free to users.

Reflecting on the week, Tom said:

The Making Rooms celebrated its seventh birthday last week and what a celebration it was.

Our visitors – from Milan to Stockholm, Barcelona and across Europe – were blown away with everything that is happening, here at The Making Rooms and wider across Blackburn with Darwen too.

They were impressed with what has already been achieved, but also what’s still to come and our plans for the future – including the chance to expand into our basement and the opportunity for an exciting new rooftop space for our Eco Lab.

The whole week with the European Hub Leaders was a real melding of minds – a chance for them to learn from us and for us to learn from them. And, we included partners too, including the National Festival of Making, the Super Slow Way, Unculture Creatives, Blackburn College and the Youth Zone too.

Already, those connections are proving fruitful with potential new collaborations in the pipeline.

The visitors were treated to a packed programme right throughout the week including talks, workshops and a number of local partner visits.

Tom added:

It was invigorating for us as a team to be able to meet and talk to people who run creative spaces right across Europe.

For us, The Making Rooms is here to help create more jobs in the creative and manufacturing sectors by supporting business creation, it’s about improving employability by giving people future creative and technical skills and it’s about increasing participation in Science, Engineering, Technology, Mathematics and the Arts.

Of course, there’s a lot of fun involved too – The Making Rooms is a really exciting place to be and so many of our supporters were quick to tell the Minister that too.

The Making Rooms has also helped young people in the borough with their partnership with Blackburn and Darwen Youth Zone to create The Making Zone, a scheme that is already being rolled out wider locally and nationally too due to its success.

Councillor Quesir Mahmood, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Growth and Development, said:

We have such a strong cultural and creative offer here in Blackburn with Darwen.

It was fantastic to see just how impressed the Minister was and also the European Hub Leaders – we don’t like to do things by halves here in Blackburn with Darwen!

We have all seen just what an impact Tom and the team at The Making Rooms are having – inspiring our residents and also forging really strong community connections too.

We want to build on that and are working hard on plans to expand The Making Rooms as part of a new, dedicated Tech Innovation Quarter with a bid for further Levelling Up funding in the pipeline.

We feel incredibly lucky and proud to have The Making Rooms here in Blackburn and last week was a perfect showcase of that.

If you haven’t already, be sure to call in and take a look for yourselves, I know you’ll be just as impressed as we all are and the others too!

There’s a free Fab Lab that is open to the public every Saturday for residents and visitors to enjoy, supported by the Brian Mercer Trust and Blackburn with Darwen borough council.

For more information and to read more about The Making Rooms, please click here. 

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