A mill building made from brick
Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings with all external scaffolding removed, July 2022. © Historic England

Final piece of external scaffolding taken down

13 July 2022

The completion of the main exterior works to the Main Mill and Kiln buildings at Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings marks a key moment in the restoration of the home of the world’s first iron-framed building.

The remaining scaffolding on the Grade II listed Kiln came down following the laying of the last slate on the Kiln.

A man on a slate roof.
The last slates being laid on the Kiln roof, June 2022. © Historic England

Built in 1797, the Flaxmill Maltings had two centuries of use, first as a flax mill, then a maltings and also as a training centre and barracks during World War II. Functioning as a maltings for almost a century, the business closed down in 1987 after which the Kiln, and the other historic buildings, fell into decline.

The Henry Stopes designed Kiln was added in 1898 during the site’s conversion from a flax mill to a maltings and is now being adapted for future use into a breath-taking new atrium entrance for commercial tenants. Members of the public will be able to look into the Kiln from the new visitor exhibition, which will begin in the Main Mill and finish in the Kiln’s southern end.

During the restoration internal scaffold and shoring was put in place and work began on deconstructing what was left of the original distinctive pyramid roof. The original Welsh roof slates had been stripped in 1987 leaving only a temporary felt roof, so the steel and timber structures were all in poor condition and needed to be replaced. The restoration of the Kiln has been a complex construction project.

A steel frame for a roof.
View of the Jubilee Tower and scaffolded Kiln with new steelwork, Dec 2019. © Historic England

In July 2019 a vast new steel roof structure was successfully lifted into place before the new timber roof rafters and the skylight were added. The external transformation was completed with the creation of a new roof using 7,200 new Welsh slates from Penrhyn Quarry, the last major source of Welsh slate.

Slate roof tiles.
Welsh slates from Penrhyn Quarry used on The Kiln, Cross Mill and Main Mill roofs. © Historic England

Inside the Kiln, steelwork for a new lift shaft and walkways to the upper floors of the Main Mill have been fitted. There have also been lots of careful repairs to the walls with matching brickwork both inside and out.

With parts of the Main Mill and Kiln being hidden for the last 15 years or so, the last remaining scaffolding being taken down is a real milestone for the project.  It’s also fantastic to see the exterior of the Kiln now complete with its new Welsh slate roof.

With the majority of the external and ground works around the site now finished, the remainder of the project will focus on finishing the internal fitout, which is already well underway. It will truly be a moment for celebration when the site opens to the public and office tenants, and can begin its third century of use.

Alastair Godfrey, Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings Project Lead
Historic England

The restoration of the Grade I listed Main Mill and the Grade II Kiln at the Flaxmill Maltings is taking place, supported by a £20.7 million grant thanks to National Lottery players through The National Lottery Heritage Fund, combined with the additional funding from the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership via its Growth Deal with Government, and from project partners Historic England and Shropshire Council.

The Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings team are busy behind the scenes, preparing to open in 2022. When it is complete there will be four floors of office space for businesses to rent, a new visitor exhibition, a gift shop and a café which will be open to the public.

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