In the second half of the 19th century the manufacture of many of the consumer goods that had previously been made by individual craftsmen in towns came to be concentrated in factories. One of the firms that pioneered the mass-production of clothing in England was Hyam Hyam of Colchester. The first Hyam Hyam was trading in the town as a pawnbroker and clothes-dealer in the 1820s, and his sons continued his business. By 1870 they had built the Abbey Gate works in Stanwell Street, a three-storey brick building, which housed large numbers of sewing machines.
Several other companies followed their example and set up factories in the Stanwell Street area, and for 80 years Colchester was one of the principal provincial clothing-manufacturing centres in England.
In the 1980s the Hyam factory was adapted as offices by the Stanley Bragg architectural partnership, who appreciate its historical importance.