On the ground floor, at the back end of the courtyard, was the Plating Shop (on architect’s drawings named the Polishing Shop). This was where the electro-plating was done.
Electro-plating is an electro-chemical process that covers a metallic object with a thin ‘plate’ of another metal to give it the desired look or finish.
This workshop did mainly brass and copper plating. The plating equipment comprises large vats containing dangerous chemicals such as sulphuric acid. The items to be coated are first dipped into the vat then an electric current is passed through them which deposits a thin outer coat of the desired metal over the surface.
Anthony Allen, the son of Arthur Allen, Newman Brothers’ travelling salesman between 1903 and 1939 describes the whole set up as
“very Heath Robinson. One had the feeling that you could be electrocuted just going through the door… fumes and bubbles, and slightly frightening.”