Hatton Garden’s new saviour

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Barry Jacobs on stepping up to lead Hatton Garden to a new dawn.

Barry Jacobs started working in Hatton Garden when he was just 15, back in the good old days. Now in his new role of ambassador for the jewellery quarter he’s planning to bring the glory days back, but he needs you help.

Barry Jacobs is like a whirlwind. Conversations with him tend to last no longer than five minutes yet manage to be worthwhile, and when he wants something done – like a photo of him in front of the Hatton Garden sign – it gets done, and quickly. In other words, there’s no messing.

This fast and furious attitude will stand him in good stead for his latest challenge – becoming an ambassador for Hatton Garden. Balancing running his business Jacobs Jewellery Design, bringing up four children and commuting from Hertfordshire, Jacobs is taking on the additional unpaid position of Hatton Garden ambassador.

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Jacobs has not been elected, but he’s not exactly self appointed either. He was approached by the directors of London Jewellery Week and asked to be a year-round ambassador for Hatton Garden.

In a sense it’s not an official role, but as Jacobs says, he’s been waiting a long time for someone to step up and spearhead the rejuvenation of Hatton Garden and he’s still waiting. And so it seems the task falls to him.

“I feel very deeply about Hatton Garden,” says Jacobs. “I’ve been here since I was 15; Hatton Garden is all I’ve ever known.”

Jacobs comes from a family of Hatton Garden workers. His grand¬father ran a sweet stall in Leather Lane market and both Jacobs and his father trained as diamond mounters in Hatton Garden. The father and son then went on to establish Jacobs Jewellery Design, which was originally called J Jacobs and specialised in repairs, altera¬tions and selling castings.

Jacobs Jewellery Design has since flourished and now employs five ex¬pert diamond mounters and boasts a workshop that is constantly busy. One of its latest projects has been to manufacture the jewellery for the new Nota Bene brand developed by Nikki Blowers, daughter of Hull jew¬eller Ian Blowers.

The Jacobs family is also continu¬ing to evolve within the jewellery quarter and Jacobs’ daughter Har¬riet Jacobs is now studying for an NVQ qualification in jewellery at Hatton Garden’s Holts Academy.

The years have not been so kind to Hatton Garden itself, however. Talking to those in the trade who remember the buzzy Hatton Garden of days gone by, many are sad to see the state the street has fallen into, Jacobs included.

“What I’m trying to do is make Hatton Garden what it once was,” says Jacob. “It used to be a very lively place, the shops were full, there was business out there.”

While some groups, such as ChangeActShare and its many affili¬ate arms such as Jewellery Connec¬tions, have tried to bring the Hatton Garden Community together there has never before been a singular voice calling for change and more importantly actioning change.

Jacobs intends to be that voice. No confusing little clubs, no funding issues cutting projects short, just one man and his passion for Hatton Garden and creating a profitable, vibrant jewellery community. And Jacobs has a plan.

First off, he will pressure Camden Council to spend some more money on the area. Funding has come in lumps for specific projects, such as London Jewellery Week, in the past but has dried up in recent years. Jacobs is hoping to kickstart it once again and believes he has “a pretty good chance”.

He also wants the council to pe¬destrianise Hatton Garden to create a better experience for shoppers. And to keep them in Hatton Garden for longer than a quick trip around the shops, Jacobs is planning to open a Hatton Garden museum that documents the rich history of the area, not just focusing on the jewel¬lery quarter but telling the tale of historic Leather Lane market.

A more up-to-date method Jacobs is employing to bring the Hatton Garden community together is to harness the power of the web. He is setting up a website that will act as a portal in which the businesses of Hatton Garden can advertise serv¬ices, creating a clarity that is vital to good networking.

The site will have a consumer-facing section to encourage shop¬pers to come down to the area, but it will also have a trade section that can only be accessed by username and password. This will list all the businesses in Hatton Garden in one place so that should a jeweller be seeking out a stone setter, for exam¬ple, then they can use the site to find one. It will also have a section where stone dealers, including the London Diamond Bourse, can upload their prices creating a comparison web¬site for jewellers.

While Jacobs is the driving force behind the creation of the site, he will not populate it; that he is going to leave to the Hatton Garden com¬munity. If a business wants to adver¬tise their services to the trade then they will be given a log-in for the site and will be able to directly update their profile.

Another facet of his new role is to act as a mentor for those in Hatton Garden. “I’m here to help people and give advice,” he enthuses.

Jacobs is banking on reciprocal community spirit to assist him in his mission to turn Hatton Garden around. Just like his door is always open for those needing a bit of as¬sistance, he is hoping to hear from the community as to how they feel the area can be improved.

“With everyone’s help we can rejuvenate Hatton Garden,” Jacobs says confidently. “If anyone has any individual ideas then please come to me. Let’s do it as a whole, as a Hat¬ton Garden community.”

And with this summation Jacobs hits it on the head. He might have the courage and the passion to stand up and lead the way but if nobody is willing to take up the gauntlet alongside him then his ef¬forts will fail. This turnaround mis¬sion has to be a community effort, as only Hatton Garden can make Hatton Garden great again.

 

Get in touch with Hatton Garden’s new ambassador: Barry Jacobs, 36/38 Hatton Garden, barryjacobs@jacobsjewellery.co.uk, 0207 242 8524

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