A photograph showing a red bricked three storey kiln
The Kiln in December 2020 without scaffolding © Historic England

Restored Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings’ Kiln Revealed

9 December 2020

The scaffolding which had surrounded the pyramid-roofed Kiln at Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings since March 2019 has been removed.

The Kiln, believed to be one of the largest in Europe, has been undergoing extensive internal and external repair as part of the restoration of the Flaxmill Maltings site, led by site owners, 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 the Second World War.

The Grade II listed Kiln was added in 1898 as part of the site’s conversion from a flax mill to a maltings. It was a state of the art kiln at the time and Henry Stopes, who was a leading authority on malt and malting was brought in to offer design advice and adapt the site to its new use. 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.

As part of the regeneration of the Flaxmill Maltings, the Kiln is being converted into a new atrium entrance for commercial tenants. From the Kiln, businesses that will call the Flaxmill Maltings home will be able to access their offices on the upper four floors of the Main Mill via a new lift and purpose-built walkways.

A photograph showing a red bricked three storey kiln
The Kiln in December 2020 without scaffolding © Historic England

To bring the future vision for the Kiln to life, in early 2019 complex internal scaffold and shoring support to the building was put in place. Work then began on deconstructing the distinctive pyramid roof which had been stripped of roof slates in 1987 leaving only a temporary felt roof. This led to significant damage to the roof’s steel and timber structures meaning it all needed to be replaced.

In July 2019 the new steel roof structure was successfully installed, using a huge crane to lift the heavy steel beams. Following this, the new timber roof rafters were put in place and the new skylight at the very top of the roof was installed. By the end of this year 7,200 new Welsh slates from Penrhyn Quarry, the last major source of Welsh slate, will have been used to create the Kiln’s new roof.

Inside the Kiln, new steelwork for the lift shaft and walkways has been put in. The concrete vaulting around the sides – a 1960s replacement of the original brick vaults – was in very poor condition and is being replaced. There have also been lots of careful repairs to the walls with matching brickwork inside and out.

A photograph showing a wooden tower and five storey brick mill next to a red bricked three storey kiln which is covered with scaffolding.
The Kiln, seen here on the right prior to the scaffolding being removed © Historic England DP263590

After being hidden behind scaffolding since 2019, it’s fantastic to see the pyramid-roofed Kiln revealed. The highly skilled carpenters, roofers and craftsmen of our contractor Croft Building and Construction Ltd really have done an incredible job bringing this building back to life.

During the malting era, the Kiln was a hub of busy daily activity, as it will be once again when it becomes the main entrance for commercial tenants, providing a breath-taking view when people first set foot in the building.

Alastair Godfrey, Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings Project Lead
Historic England

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

Now that the scaffolding is down, it’s fantastic that the local community and the ex-maltsters can once again see the pyramid-roof and the 1898 frontage.

The site was adapted from a flax mill to maltings in the late 1800s and is now once again adapting ready for a new century of use. Each part of the Main Mill and Kiln that are restored brings us closer to opening and to Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings being once again at the heart of the community. Congratulations to Historic England and The National Lottery Heritage Fund for enabling this to happen.

Alan Mosley, Chair of the Friends of the Flaxmill Maltings

The revitalised site will become a new learning and enterprise quarter for Shrewsbury, with high quality offices for the region’s growing creative industries that will help drive the town’s renaissance as a regional economic hub, as it was when Shropshire led the way in the Industrial Revolution. There will also be a new visitor experience and a café open to the public.

The Main Mill and Kiln at Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings will open in 2022, with the new visitor experience and café opening on the ground floor and the top four floors available for commercial tenants.

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