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Seven sensational factory conversions to get excited about

The Horlicks Factory
The Horlicks Factory Quarter in Slough. Photo: Berkeley Group (Berkeley Group)

Although probably the world’s most famous manufacturing works, Willy Wonka’s fictional chocolate factory would be far too quirky to become a practical home when no longer in use. However in real-life, apartments in converted former factories are perfect for modern lifestyles, combining awesome architectural features and spacious, luxurious interiors. We’ve selected some of the best that are currently on the market.

1. The Linen Quarter, Dunfermline, Fife, from £167,000

Photo: LSL Land & New Homes
Photo: LSL Land & New Homes

Grade A-listed The Pilmuir Works damask factory was built in the middle of the 19th century when Dunfermline was a major player in the UK’s linen industry. It’s being transformed into a collection of one, two and three-bedroom flats alongside new-builds, a short walk from the city centre.


Each home is individually designed to make the most of the high ceilings and big windows, and includes an open plan kitchen/living/dining space and plenty of storage. There’s private parking and residents will have use of a car club. Find out more from LSL Land & New Homes.

2. Gunsmith House, Birmingham, from £225,000

Photo: Savills
Photo: Savills

This imposing redbrick building is on the edge of the historic Gun Quarter, where munitions for conflicts including the Napoleonic and the two world wars were made. Once occupied by the city’s finest gunmaker, it’s getting a new lease of life as a mix of 85 one and two-bedroom flats, some within the original building.

They’re set around a landscaped courtyard and many have balconies. More than three quarters have already been sold, so you’ll need to act fast to avoid missing out. Get in touch with Savills.

Read more: 10 former rectories and vicarages for sale

3. The Horlicks Quarter, Slough, from £279,950

Photo: Julian Franklin
Photo: Julian Franklin

Sweet treats such as Maltesers and Mars bars, as well as hot malted drink Horlicks, were manufactured here before the brand was sold and the factory closed in 2018. Today it’s reinventing itself as a smart new residential quarter, comprising apartments and duplexes in the restored original buildings and brand new flats and houses.

The clocktower and 47-metre high chimney have also been restored, and facilities include a concierge, games room, fitness centre, cinema and co-working space. An on-site café and day nursery are planned, plus a central piazza. By Berkeley Group.

4. Ovaltine Court, King’s Langley, Hertfordshire, offers over £330,000

Photo: Purplebricks
Photo: Purplebricks

During its heyday, 1,400 people were employed to produce Ovaltine in this striking building, which dates from 1913 and was substantially extended in the late 1920s. Following closure in 2002 it was converted into flats which sit in well-maintained landscaped grounds.

This one’s on the second floor, overlooks the Grand Union Canal and has two double bedrooms, two bathrooms, a bright living/dining room, a separate kitchen, lift access and a parking space. King’s Langley high street and station are in walking distance, and Junction 20 of the M25 is a few minutes’ drive. Through Purplebricks.

5. Hayes Village, Hayes, Middlesex, from £327,000

Photo: Barratt London
Photo: Barratt London

Move over Willy Wonka – now’s your chance to live a chocolate factory of your own as this development was once home to chocolatier and bodybuilder, Eugen Sandow, who founded a cocoa works on-site in 1913. In 1929, it changed hands to become the first factory outside Switzerland to manufacture the Nestlé Milky Bar and is being redeveloped into nearly 1,500 homes, including a number in the refurbished factory.

Studio, one, two and three-bedroom flats are on offer and nine acres of previously unused green space is being opened up. This includes a walking trail, a running track, new canal frontage and a footpath to Hayes and Harlington Crossrail station. By Barratt London.

Read more: 9 homes perfect for socialising

6. The Foister Building, Leicester, £425,000

Photo: Oliver Rayns
Photo: Oliver Rayns

A huge duplex penthouse in a 1930s former hosiery factory, converted about 20 years ago. Entered via a glass canopied walkway, it comprises a light-infused double height living space with a half vaulted ceiling, exposed steel beams and French doors leading out to a terrace, an open plan kitchen with a wraparound breakfast bar, a utility room and a cloakroom.

A steel and glass staircase rises to the first floor, where you’ll find two ensuite bedrooms and a balcony. Comes with a parking space and planning permission to extend the upper floor. Contact Oliver Rayns.

Read more: 7 rainbow-tastic homes with brightly coloured interiors

7. Brooklyn, New York, USA, $3.795m (approx £3.03m)

Photo: Brown Harris Stevens
Photo: Brown Harris Stevens

Buy this beautiful penthouse and you’ll never get tired of the views of the Manhattan skyline across the East River. It’s located at the top of the Sweeney Manufacturing Building, where metal kitchenware was once made, so it’s only fitting that it incorporates a top end chef’s kitchen with a large island, a range and Sub Zero fridge.

The kitchen forms part of a vast living/entertaining room, and there’s a primary bedroom suite, a wing containing two more bedrooms, a bathroom, cloakroom and laundry room and a private roof terrace. Available via Brown Harris Stevens.

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