A photograph showing a wooden tower and five storey brick mill next to a red bricked three storey kiln which is covered with scaffolding.
General view of the Main Mill from the south-east, October 2020. The Kiln is shown still with scaffolding in place. © Historic England

Sustainable Energy Source for Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings

12 February 2021

Historic England has committed to a low-carbon energy source as part of the regeneration of Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings.

  • The system will provide an estimated 69% of energy usage for the Main Mill and Kiln.
  • The new ground-source heat pump will reduce carbon emissions associated with space heating by an estimated 46% from 45 tonnes to 24 tonnes per annum.
  • Ground-source heat pump systems are seen as one means of decarbonising our heating in the UK.

The installation of the new ground-source heat pump system at Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings will begin early next week.

This commitment to a low-carbon energy source by site owners Historic England marks an exciting innovation for the project.

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. The ground-source heat pump is an important part of the effort to sustainably restore this historic site. It demonstrates that centuries-old buildings can also adapt to use sustainable energy sources and play their part in efforts to tackle climate change.  

The ground-source heat pump will extract heat from the ground via vertical bore holes, and the specialist drilling rig to create these will be onsite from next week. These bore holes will be located underneath the line of the former canal tow path, which will become a pedestrian and cycle route through the site to the front of the Main Mill. The line of the former Shrewsbury and Newport Canal will be preserved in perpetuity and become an open landscaped green corridor which could easily be accessed and adapted should the canal be restored in the future.

The naturally generated heat from the system will provide an estimated 69% of the energy needed for the heating and hot water used in the Main Mill and Kiln, with the remainder being supplemented by a gas boiler. Carbon emissions associated with space heating will be reduced by an estimated 46%.

Ground-source heat pumps work by extracting heat energy stored in the ground. Heat from under the ground is absorbed into the liquid which circulates through buried pipework. It will then be processed through the heat pump plant and used by the hot water and heating systems within the Main Mill and Kiln.

The main heat pump plant will be located on the second floor of the South Engine House at the Flaxmill Maltings. The South Engine House once housed the steam engine which powered the flax spinning machinery – a fitting home for the building’s future energy source.

A photograph of a five-storey engine house with a timber hoist tower protruding from the side.
The main heat pump plant will be located on the second floor of the restored New South Engine House. © Historic England

In recent years Historic England has been working closely with other organisations, on a national and international scale, to understand and address the challenges that the historic environment faces as we move into a period of climate-uncertainty.

The ground-source heat pump at Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings represents a firm commitment from Historic England to climate change mitigation. By investing in sustainable energy generation we are taking a step in the right direction to reduce the carbon emissions that exacerbate climate change and prove that energy efficiency and sustainable technology are compatible with the conservation of our heritage.

This is a really great example of the positive role the historic environment can play in addressing the causes of climate change, and I’m proud to see our words being put into action as part of the Flaxmill Maltings project.

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive
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.

At The National Lottery Heritage Fund we have a crucial role to play in ensuring that our impact, and the impacts of our projects, are no longer damaging the world around us, and are enhancing, protecting and benefitting the places and people we support.

The sustainable restoration of the world’s first iron-framed building, a precursor to the skyscrapers of today, will allow future generations to benefit and enjoy this incredibly significant heritage site. We’re proud to support a project that is making such a responsible environmental choice with the installation of a ground-source heat pump.

Anne Jenkins, Director, England, Midlands & East
The National Lottery Heritage Fund

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 managed by the Friends of the Flaxmill Maltings and a café open to the public.

The building’s pioneering design led the way in 1797 and Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings is once again leading the way with the adoption of a ground-source heat pump as the main energy source for the Main Mill and Kiln. The Friends are delighted to be part of a project that puts tackling climate change firmly on its agenda.

Alan Mosley, Chair of the Friends of the Flaxmill Maltings

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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