Think of us as property managers and developers with a difference

Digital and Gaming Hub

Inspiring future generations

A furniture store, no more.

With the redevelopment of the Bus Station, we’ve shown that our heritage buildings can be conserved with a creative and viable proposition by making sure they serve the community in relevant and exciting ways.  

This is what we are going to do with the regeneration of the iconic Whittles building in Whitehaven.

A key target for regeneration due to its scale, prominence and high visibility location on the corner of Duke Street and Tangier Street.- the building is visible to all vehicular traffic going through the town and the pedestrianised King Street shopping area. 

We acquired the former furniture store in 2021 and have worked tirelessly with partners to develop the concept which will see the building brought back into use for the current generation as a fully accessible, safe and social space – whilst preserving the unique ‘Whitehaven Italianate’ exterior of this gorgeous Grade II listed building. Whilst the project has futuristic design and digital facilities at the heart, the identity, character and history of the building will remain strong. 

With the target opening in quarter 2 2025 – the scheme will open the door to the many exciting opportunities in the digital and creative sectors.  Working with education and industry partners we’re looking to address the digital skills gap, offer work and learning experiences, access to industry connections and guidance and more.

This re-development is made possible with funding support from our partners – with £2.820 million from Sellafield Ltd Social Impact Multiplied funding and £800,000 from BT matched with £485,000 from BEC.

The history.

Built in the late 19th century, 6 Duke Street was trading as Davis’s Chusan Tea Warehouse in 1889.  

The current Italianate-style stucco modifications to Duke Street and Tangier Street elevations were applied shortly after. 

By 1900 the site was fully developed as we see it today. 

In 1909 the adjoining building was demolished and extended into with evidence from 1920 showing the buildings ownership had transferred to J Whittles and Son before that date.  

In the early 1960’s a third phase of development occurred with 8 Duke Street being integrated into the floor plan creating the single building 6-8 Duke Street.  

The building most recently traded as a furniture store under the ownership of J Whittle and Son until it’s closure in 2021. 

BEC acquired the building in July 2021 and secured planning permission in November 2021 for a community digital hub, café and the creation of a roof terrace.  

Why gaming?

The gaming industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in the world and the UK is a driving force in this success story, with 95% of UK games businesses exporting overseas and international sales contributing 45% of turnover on average.  

Half the population actively play video games in some form and some 46% of regular gamers are over 40.  The split between male and female players is roughly 50/50 – countering the traditional view that gaming is largely the domain of young males. 

The hub will help to bridge the digital skills gap and encourage students to study STEM subjects as well as creative careers, giving people the opportunity to gain the skills needed to work in the industry.  

For those that want to get into the sector, Barclays Eagle Labs based in the Bus Station can connect you with industry experts and help you start-up!

Worth £124.6 billion in 2023

In 2023 the gaming sector was worth £124.6 billion, generating £12 million every hour!

Supports 47,000 jobs in the UK

The industry supports over 47,000 jobs with 1,500 to 2,000 vacancies at any time due to growth in demand.

2,300 games companies in the UK

There are nearly 2,300 active games companies in the UK but only 4 in Cumbria and none in West Cumbria.

Funding opportunities

UK Government is investing in the sector through the UK Games Fund and the Digital Growth Grants.

Come on the journey with us.

We’ve engaged with and listened to our local community as we’ve developed our plans for the hub and we’re going to continue engaging with you as we develop the internal space and the offer. 

We’re also going to be running some exciting competitions in February – you’ll be able to get involved in helping name the hub and you might even get to see your own creation featured when we open – we’re offering some great prizes too!

Follow us on social media @becsocial – we’re on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – and sign up for our newsletter below to stay up to date with all the exciting news from our extraordinary community.