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How and why has the use of the buildings that house the Quay Arts complex changed over the last one hundred years?

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Introduction

How and why has the use of the buildings that house the Quay Arts complex changed over the last one hundred years? Newport Quay, situated at the centre of the island, was one of a variety of buildings surrounding it in 1900. Some of these included the main building, Mew Langton's brewery warehouse, as well as the Shephard Brothers warehouses and the rope store - each with a different purpose and providing different services. The Quay was used for the import and export of goods to and from the Isle of Wight. Imported to the island were generally different manufactured goods, such as cloth, or simply goods that weren't available on the island itself, for example coal and rice. However, the island had the advantage of satisfactory crop-growing conditions, and so products such as wheat, malt, salt, flour and biscuit were commonly exported to the mainland, as well as a variety of vegetables. Livestock were also to the island's advantage, and so sheep and cattle were also exported, as well as wool shorn from the sheep. Newport was the centre for trade and consequently very busy, and perhaps the main and most apparent reason for this is because of its central location, making it the most accessible area on the island. In 1900 there were no cars, and so it was significant that it was a reachable destination for wagons, and its position next to the river also provided access for boats. It was also situated at the centre of the railway, again making it more easily accessible to and from the rest of the island. The 19th Century also brought with it a population increase, which in turn was a growing affluence on the trade of Newport. This meant that the trade of shops and businesses were more active and growing, and so Newport was consequently affected by this, becoming generally busier and gaining a more significant part in the island's trade. ...read more.

Middle

Today, the Quay has been completely regenerated and serves for many different purposes than what it did years ago. Much of the original building does in fact still remain, due to the Quay being listed - however, the majority of these remains do not actually hold a functional purpose other than to conserve the building's character. The main building - as was once the Brewery warehouse - now serves primarily as the Quay Arts Centre, and poses solely for leisure purposes; consisting of art galleries and exhibitions; a theatre, in which performances and live entertainment is provided; classes and workshops, which are open to the public to participate in; a caf´┐Ż; and of course a gift shop. The Rope Store building, consisting of three separate floors, correspondingly serves for three separate purposes - that of the first floor being used as an art gallery, the third as a dressing room for performers using the theatre, and the middle floor as a meeting room for the Quakers. These are a religious sect which doesn't refer to a church as a place of worship; and so they pay for access to the building and hold regular meetings there as an alternative. They use the room as would be used for an untailored gathering and together pray and hold discussions, whilst imposing no disruptions to the rest of the building's activity - which in turn provides promotion in all aspects, in the sense that the Quakers have a meeting room, the Quay itself makes profit from the fee charged for their using the room, all the while permitting regular activity to continue in the rest of the building. The Shephard Brother's warehouses, however, have been converted into modern apartments. This, despite perhaps coming across as divisive from the view that the building is listed, and so a complete renewal wasn't an option in its conversion to modern apartments, in fact worked in correspondence with the desired outcome - nowadays it has become fashionable, in fact, to live ...read more.

Conclusion

The matter of history speaks for itself, in that the regeneration was necessary if the buildings were going to be put to use, yet their character maintained. Living again fashion follows this, for whilst maintaining the buildings, and hence their character, again they were being put to use in creating something beneficial not only for business purposes, but the people (/buyers) themselves. Each of the above reasons in one way or another influence each other - and so perhaps none would be so influential without the other two. The issue of leisure was of course intended to one day create more of a profit for (more money) the Quay, which would have been of no point had money not been the initiating influence. History wasn't, in my opinion, such a reason for the regeneration in itself, for the building would still have continued to pursue its character had the regeneration not been put forth. It did, however, influence greatly the matter of living fashion, for the popularity of the modern flats would not have been so had the buildings not had the character of history, again showing how one reason was greatly influenced by another. The matter of money, however, was the initiator in that it was now becoming available - and for obvious reasons, without it the regeneration would not have been possible - and independent from the other reasons. For this reason I am led to conclude that the fact that the money was becoming available was in fact the key reason for the Quay's regeneration, for without it none of the others would have purpose, or even the opportunity. Here can be seen Newport Quay as it is today. What once were warehouses have now been converted into residential apartments (left). The main building (centre) as was once the Brewery warehouse, now serves as the main Quay Arts building. To the right hand side of the photo can be seen what used to be the Rope Store, and now serves as an art gallery, Quakers meeting room, and dressing room. ...read more.

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