In June this year, Jayd Lawrence, Chris Dell and Andrew Pye took a trip Leigh Hackspace which is located in an old cotton mill that did not reveal its hidden secrets apart from a bespoke spray pained sign built from recycled metal revealing the Leigh hackspace’s namesake.
Around the corner on the front of the building was a big black door that you entered leading to a set of stairs - once I had reached the top I entered the workspace.
WOW! The only way to describe this place: it is hackerspace heaven! We were given a warm welcome by Marcus and his fellow hackers. The hackspace was designed as a large open plan office, separated into different areas hosting different craft/hacker workspaces. Marcus showed us around explaining the basic layout concept of the office which includes: a messy area workspace for painting, woodwork, pottery, and clean areas for textiles, electronics, photography and general hacking. Desks are located in the central area to allow for a more communal workspace. There is also an area for kids to play allowing for families to attend. A café is currently in the works.
The separate sections of the hackspace include:
The pottery area is a new addition to the crafts section that will be available soon. Marcus pointed out that they would not be able to run the furnace in the winter because of power limitations in the building. They will have to raise funds to upgrade the space’s plumbing and electrical works.
This area is well equipped with a variety of tools such and a drill, electric saws and lathes as well as the more traditional hand tools such as planes and chisels. This area is currently undergoing a renovation with plans to add custom wall-to-wall workbenches and a glazed self-contained area to keep the inevitable mess associated with woodwork from spreading without losing the open feel of the space.
Marcus pointed out that it was important to them to make it easy for families to attend by offering activities for parents and children - having a play area provides a safe place for the kids to enjoy themselves whilst the big kids get to hack away. There are plans to make this area smaller so that it will encourage the kids to take part in the hacking workspace rather that play with Barbie unless they plan to turn it into a robot.
Each area in the hackspace was well organised but especially the electronics area with each of the component drawers labelled up with a sample component glued to the front. This area was well equipped with tools such as an oscilloscope, soldering iron and myriad of other gadgets. There are plenty of bits and bobs boxed up and labels ready for you bring your next electronic project to life.
This area contains a fully functioning dark room with all the equipment you need to perform your own photo development including a camera library with a myriad of different cameras to enable you to take pictures old school. On the wall were examples illustrating how the photo lab has been used to produce photo art by placing objects on photo paper and exposing the paper to different light. It was even equipped with a light to warn people not to open the door while developing is in progress.
The communal area has been created to help encourage members to interact with each other rather than just stick in one area of the hackspace.
The desks are well laid out with power blocks and good sized workspaces for working and socialising. The hackspace also has a wireless and 3D printer ready for use.
This area has a fully equipped textile area armed with over-lockers and sewing machines enabling you to create any textile project you can think of.
The café is currently under construction but when finished will be run full-time by Marcus and his wife enabling them to keep the hackspace open during the day and evening.