100-year-old bank transformed by vintage collector
Tracy Webb has always loved visiting curiosity shops. “I work all over the country, so I used to stay an extra day just so I could walk all around the second hand shops and antique shops.
“It’s just what I’ve always liked and its what all my friends have liked as well, we love any place where you can look round and sit and have a coffee. You can go to any second hand shop, any antique place and they’ve all got different things in them.”
Tracy’s passion for vintage has led her to transform the 100-year-old bank on the corner of the Abbeydale Road and Sheldon Road into an arts, crafts and vintage centre called The Vault.
The old HSBC bank, which was built in 1899, is now a colourful and welcoming space, filled with a mixture of vintage accessories and jewellery, ornaments, home-made cards, second-hand books, crockery, furniture and vintage clothes. At the back of The Vault is a large room filled with vintage wedding and bridesmaid dresses and shoes.
A platform for artists
The Vault rents out spaces to independent artists, clothes makers and designers, offering them a platform from which to sell their products and showcase their skills.
“If someone is just starting out making bags and purses or cards, they can just rent a shelf or wardrobe space. They can sell at their own prices and there is no commission on top. So they have no added bills to pay and they don’t have to sit there all day.”
There is even a space to rent in the original bank vault, which is still in the basement of the building. Tracy has transformed the space, turning the old safe into a display cupboard.
A gypsy without a caravan
Originally from Rotherham, Tracy, aged 45, works full time as an asbestos building surveyor, travelling all over the country. “I’ve done random things actually, I started in the asbestos game about 10 years back, but I was a gardener before that for 10 years. I loved gardening, but I’m too old now.
“I’m not very good at doing one thing, my life has always been like that, my boss keeps saying to me that I’m a gypsy without a caravan.”
Tracy is always working on new ideas and developments for The Vault, with the most recent involving a Caribbean cafe and a graffiti artist.
On Saturday 12th May, a Jamaican style cafe will be moving into The Vault. Tracy is working with Sonia Bent to open a new, independent cafe called Caribbean Desire. Jerky and roast vegetable wraps will be on offer, alongside Caribbean Crushers made with real fruit, as well as cakes and coffees.
The graffiti artist Leigh Redhead, known as Trix, will be putting art on the walls of the ladies facilities and Tracy is hoping to put on an art exhibition of his work in the vault downstairs.
Reviving the old Antiques Quarter
Tracy has also been meeting with the many other businesses and traders in the area. These traders have come together to work on a new marketing strategy to gain official recognition of the area as an Antiques Quarter.
This includes the Queens Road in Heeley, London Road, Broadfield Road and Abbeydale Road. Within this circle are a large number of businesses selling everything from antiques to vintage, retro and contemporary art. “There are around sixty businesses on Abbeydale Road alone,” said Tracy.
Hendrika Stephens, owner of contemporary art business The Corner Gallery, began working on the idea of an Antiques Quarter when she was looking for a way to advertise and market the area without spending much money. “I came up with the idea of producing a leaflet which included a map with everyone on it, but then we realised there was a much better way.”
They have since been working with the council and county tourism body Welcome Yorkshire, to gain an official designation as an Antiques Quarter and to market the area both in Sheffield and beyond.
“The Antiques Quarter already exists, it’s just about the businesses coming together to develop a good marketing strategy and it would be nice to make it official so that Sheffield has an extra thing on which to sell themselves.”
Hendrika said it was not only about businesses making more money but also about improving the whole area within a social, economic and environmental context.
“This came about because these businesses exist already, they are all independent and most of the centres have independent traders like me within them. They are all really interesting businesses with really interesting people running them.”
This is a one-minute film set in The Vault directed by Dominic Green and shot by Joe Bream for www.cityoneminutes.org