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Collingwood the obvious choice for estate agency’s grand, iconic new offices

When Sowerbys opened its grandest and most impressive office to date, the company had a vision of creating something unique and special that was far from your average estate agents – and tastefully lighting the centuries-old building in the heart of Norwich city centre was a key part of that process.

As the former workspace of Norwich’s most famous architect, Edward Boardman, the building was bound to be beautiful. In keeping with its reputation for quality, Sowerbys always looks for unique, character buildings when opening a new branch, but the Old Bank of England Court is about as good as it gets.

When CEO Max Sowerby secured the building, it was a dream come true. Since then it has been lovingly returned to its former glory. And after spending several months painstakingly restoring every detail, there was no way he was going to scrimp on the final, and most important finishing touch.

So determined to do the building justice and to show it off in the best possible light, Max turned to Collingwood Lighting to illuminate both the interior and exterior of the iconic property.

“My vision was to bring the country agency to the city and to convert this near derelict three-storey building into not just an office, but an exclusive ladies and gentleman’s club where our clients can come and sit in beautiful surroundings,” Max said.

“It wasn’t until I started talking to the electricians that I really learned about how lighting can actually create such an atmosphere. The electrician advised me to go with Collingwood because it works really well and you basically get what you pay for. He said I’d get the lighting I want and in the nicest possible way wouldn’t be seeing him again because the products will carry on working.”

Collingwood Lighting expert Gemma Wilshire worked with the contractor to select the mix of Collingwood products that would best achieve Max’s aims for different parts of the building.

Gemma explained: “We chose the WLO75s for some of the exterior lighting. This gives a really nice beam angle up the side of the wall so it lets people see how tall the building is and of an evening really makes the building stand out, which is what we wanted to achieve there.”

“The main down lighters we’ve used are the H2Pro and the H4FF, both of which are IP65 and fully fire rated. We found the H2Pro with a 60 degree angle was perfect for office spaces.”

Some areas, including the beautiful architectural features, needed only a delicate wash of lighting.

Max said: “Whether it was one of our 16th century fireplaces, or the church wall, it just needed some nice delicate lighting, not big lighting, and it worked really well.

“What I like about the communal area lighting is that it’s up there but you don’t see it as such. The lighting has done exactly what I wanted it to do - it’s there but you’re not aware of it. There are cheaper alternatives but you get what you pay for. My experience working with Collingwood so far has been absolutely brilliant.”

The easy fit and ongoing reliability of Collingwood products also makes them a firm favourite with electricians.

Paul Flint, of Norfolk Flint Ltd, worked on the Sowerbys project. He said: “There are certain products on the market that look good but feel very tinny, very lightweight and almost fragile; they look good, but they’re not. You can buy cheaper products that look the same, but they’re not the same.”

Gemma added: “The seven-year extended warranty we offer on Collingwood products is so important, purely because from a contractor’s point of view it’s a ‘fit and forget’; they can fit it and forget about it because they know the quality is there to back up what we are selling.

“When they hear the Collingwood name and brand they all know it is quality they are getting.”

The overall result is really something rather special. When he set out on this latest venture, together with business partner Lloyd Sandy, Max was determined to create something that was more than your average estate agents’ office and they have certainly delivered.

Old Bank of England Court is the epitome of luxury and comfort, offering an exceptional customer experience with a client’s club lounge, boardroom and concierge service.

“There is a lot of competition in estate agency in the city and I knew if Sowerbys expanded into Norwich, we needed to be able to offer something special for customers. I believe we have achieved this and much more, and Collingwood Lighting played a key part in that process,” Max added.