About Craft Central
Craft Central: studio space and creative events
The creative community for imaginative thinkers, London craftspeople and craft-lovers in a landmark, historic building.
A registered charity for 40 years, we have supported craftsmanship and craftspeople, encouraging the public to appreciate craft skills and buy fine craft products.
We provide many resources for creative enterprises and individuals including: studio spaces; co-working spaces and desks; educational workshops and classes, plus a busy programme of events held in our gallery.
Our creative community can exhibit and sell fine craft products at our events, whilst our ever-growing network of designer-makers enables craftspeople to link with colleagues in the wider craft and creative community.
Commended for a New London Award, The Forge is a glorious, Grade II listed building with immense historical significance.
Located on Westferry Road, The Forge was built in 1860 for CJ Mare & Company (engineers and shipbuilders). It is one of the last buildings from the golden age of shipbuilding on the Isle of Dogs. At the time of Brunel’s famous paddle steamer, The Forge – part of a 5,000-strong workforce – built the keel for HMS Northumberland; one of the earliest ironclad battleships.
Built of robust, Flemish bond brick, The Forge then had a varied history. After becoming a workshop for Joseph Westwood & Co (structural engineers and bridgebuilders) in 1889, the vast building went into decline. At one point, there was even a risk of demolition.
2003 saw The Forge gain Grade II listing and most recently, Craft Central approached Emrys Architects with a brief to create a collection of studio spaces, creative workspaces and a gallery for exhibitions.
The sympathetic renovation ensured that many original features remained. You’ll find huge feature windows, exposed brickwork, eight former furnace chimney breasts, old gantries, ironwork and industrial fittings – even two overhead cranes (in full working order!)
One crane is particularly rare. Built by the Vaughan Crane Company in Manchester, it dates back to the late 19th century and comprises a timber gantry frame, under-braced with a timber gantry.
It is an exemplar of what can be achieved in a Listed building by good design and sympathy for the existing features. The conversion of the open lofty space without damaging the industrial inheritance is a remarkable triumph.
Chris Halliday, Estates Project Manager, Royal Museums Greenwich.
Imaginative studio spaces
Amongst all this incredible history, a free-standing, two-storey birch plywood construction proudly stands within the interior of this vast building. Housing versatile studio space bathed in natural light, the renovation was completed to a high specification, offering one of the very best creative spaces in London.
Just five stops from Canary Wharf and ten minutes’ walk from Island Gardens station on the DLR, The Forge also provides co-working space and a triple-height gallery, suitable for venue hire.
With 24/7 security, high speed WiFi, bookable free parking, professional cleaning and all-inclusive rental, The Forge is a discerning location for craftspeople and businesses wishing to link the iconic craftmanship of the past to the creative world today.
Would you like to visit Craft Central at The Forge? Please get in touch, we’d love to show you round.