From approximately 1870 to 1970 the Gables and its extensive range of outbuildings were home to a thriving butcher’s business run by the Outlaw and later the Culham families. The buildings which now form The Gables Yard were at that time a gig house, washhouse and grooms’ flat (now Workshop 1), a cutting and freezer room (Workshop 2), a slaughterhouse (Workshop 3), a stable and forge (Workshop 4) and a stable and tack room (Workshop 5).
In 1971 The Gables was bought by antique furniture restorer Arthur Smith and his wife Gladys (Chuck) who were relocating from Leicestershire to be nearer their family Helped by their daughter Pat and her architect husband Simon Whiteside they converted the slaughter-house into Workshop 3 in which Arthur established an antique furniture restoration business. Later Chuck and Pat opened a small antique shop in the newly converted Workshop 2.
Following Chuck’s death in 1984 Arthur, Pat and Simon together with friends Isobel and Ray Auker undertook a major project to create Workshop 1 for Isobel’s knitwear design business and shortly afterwards wooden jewellery and decorative ware artist, Peter Roy, moved into Workshop 2.
In 1989 after Arthur’s death, Pat and Simon decided to continue the reformation of The Gables Yard, converting the remaining two outbuildings.. Renovating the remaining two buildings into Workshops 4 and 5 enabled the tradition of highly skilled craftsmanship begun by Arthur, Isobel and Peter to continue flourishing in the friendly and relaxed atmosphere of The Gables Yard.
Great care was taken to retain the original character of each building during the conversion of the workshops and improvements to the yard, and, in 1991, Pat and Simon were very proud to receive a Norwich Society award for the scheme.
Since 1991 The Gables Yard has been home to a variety of small businesses, artists and craftsmen who have benefited from working closely together in a creative environment. Over the years the workshops have been used by artists working with ceramics, stained glass, pottery, knitwear, wood, jewellery, photography and furniture making.
The Gables Yard has a long and rich history full of charming, often eccentric, dynamic and creative characters. Pat and Simon look forward to the yard’s future, helping to develop and inspire all artists and craftsmen who choose to become part of its evolving creation.