The Daimler Powerhouse

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Imagineer’s home is the Daimler Powerhouse, which formally opens to the public in August 2021 after a significant redevelopment programme.

Architect’s impression of the redeveloped Daimler Powerhouse

The former site of car-manufacturer Daimler, Imagineer had a vision to make old industrial complex into a creative making space fit for the 21st century. After many years of planning and fundraising, redevelopment of The Daimler Powerhouse began in June 2020 with support from Coventry City of Culture 2021.

The building provides much-needed dedicated space for artists to create mainly outdoor and site-specific work, and for resident creative companies to deliver innovative programmes of education and training for children and young people.

The re-developed Daimler Powerhouse is a place where artists, engineers, architects and other creative industries can collaborate to make new work and where new and emerging practitioners can find professional support.

Interior of the Powerhouse prior to redevelopment

Interior of the Powerhouse prior to redevelopment

History of the site

The Daimler Building was originally one of the first car factory in Britain and whilst not listed, is an important part of the history and heritage of Coventry. The Daimler site was destroyed during the Blitz and the building that is designated for re-development, known as the ‘Powerhouse’, is all that remains. Local historian David Fry says: ‘To industrialists, The Daimler Building is as important as Coventry Cathedral’. It is a stopping point for a proposed Canal Corridor that will link the building to the City Centre.

The Daimler Building on Sandy Lane has a rich industrial history

Redevelopment of the Daimler Powerhouse took place during 2020-2021

With thanks to all our funders: The Coventry and Warwickshire Local Economic Partnership, Coventry City Council, Medwell Hyde, The Garfield Weston Foundation , The Wigley Group, The May 29th 1961 Charity.

Reminiscence with Albert Smith

The Daimler Building has long had a reputation as a centre of excellence, from being the first car factory in Britain to the creators of the first Fork Lift Truck. Imagineer are looking to celebrate this history both through the building itself and through sharing the stories of the people who worked there.

Albert Smith of Coventry worked in engineering and manufacturing from his apprenticeship, aged 16, in 1944 at Iso Speedic, (a subsidiary company of Coventry Climax) before being transferred to Coventry Climax main works in 1946 to work as a junior draftsman on the design of the first British fork lift truck ET199. Albert carried on working at Coventry Climax with two short breaks at GEC and Morris Motors at Courthouse Green before finally leaving to work at The Standard Motor Company in 1953.

After some years working for the Ford Motor Company in Canada in the late 1950s, Albert returned for a job at Coventry Climax as Technical Sales Manager in 1960. Part of Albert’s role included accompanying inspectors working for large companies and ministry departments to the Power House at Sandy Lane to check the stability and design features of the fork lift trucks, which they had ordered, before they were dispatched. Albert left in 1976 to form his own company.

As part of Albert’s reminiscences, he highlighted the features of the building including the crane, which could travel the whole length of the building, which is being restored as part of the development so that it will continue to be seen throughout the building and will be a part of the new aerial rig going into the development.

Albert Smith said: “I have a lifetime of memories working in the automotive industry in Coventry and it was wonderful to share those memories of both the people and the manufacturing achievements made in the City and at the Daimler Powerhouse. I was delighted to see and hear about the memorable features of the Powerhouse being maintained and to hear how engineering and creativity are still at the heart of the building, I look forward to coming back to visit.”

Listen to Albert by clicking play below.


Contact: Jane Hytch CEO Imagineer

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