Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings
In Brief

Historic England


Construction Value:
£23,000,000 (Current Phase)


The repair and adaptive re-use of Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings will revitalise one of the most important buildings of the industrial revolution as a centre for living, working, social enterprise and leisure, within mixed-use development for the site and the economic regeneration of this area of the town.

Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings is an internationally important group of eight listed buildings, including the Main Mill, which when built in 1797 was the world’s first iron-framed building that paved the way for skyscrapers.

By engaging with the local community and other key stakeholders we have developed a vibrant centre for living, working, social enterprise and leisure, as part of a wider mixed-use development for the site and economic regeneration of this area of the town.

Proposals by FCBStudios aim to provide an exemplar of how modern technology and engineering innovation can be applied to these prototype heritage buildings, complementing and preserving their special character.

FCBStudios have been acting as Strategic Advisors and Architects to client Historic England (formerly English Heritage) since 2003.

We are currently working on restoring the 1797 Grade I listed Main Mill and Grade II listed Kiln from 1898. In 2015 an interactive visitor centre opened in the converted stables, which tells the story of the Mill's role in the industrial revolution and in world architecture.

When complete, the current, second stage of the project will remove the Main Mill from the Heritage At Risk Register and create interpretation and learning space on the ground floor along with a café, four floors of flexible office space providing employment for around 300 people, circulation and meeting space within the Kiln for commercial tenants, access for tour visitors to the restored Jubilee Tower, a landscaped car park and improved accessibility across the site.

Click here to read Associate Tim Greensmiths's article 'Mending Bones'.



Derelict for many years, the big challenge has been to identify a future for the site that protects and conserves the historic buildings

Situated on the northern edge of Shrewsbury, the site reflects a time when Shropshire led the way in engineering. Its remarkable story is one of revolution, innovation and evolution.

For nearly a century the site operated as a state-of-the-art steam-powered flaxmill. It was later converted into maltings andduring the Second World War the site was used as temporary military barracks.

Following the closure of the maltings in 1987, the future of the site and its important buildings became increasingly uncertain until it was bought by Historic England in 2005.

Narrow Module Image
Design Approach

Putting the building ‘back to work' required comprehensive repair of the existing fabric and the insertion of new core facilities

A light touch conservation approach has been employed where interventions seek to preserve and enhance the special character.

Traditional craft, materials and skills are being used and any new layers of intervention have been chosen to complement the industrial character of the site.

A heritage skills programme is being delivered during the construction works, using the site itself as a tool for learning.

Narrow Module Image
Working with communities

We have engaged with the local community and wider interest groups to help energise interest in the project.

By developing a narrative around the site, as a place to offer an international learning resource, we have helped Friends of Flax Mill Maltings grow from a handful of interested neighbours to an active group of 700 members. The many events hosted, including art exhibitions, interpretation and heritage open days has resulted in an increasingly involved community, who fully appreciate the impact the restoration of this important national landmark site will have on the area’s wider regeneration.

Innovation & Sustainability

A pioneering and experimental building which is of outstanding importance in the development of fully-framed, multi-storeyed buildings

The Main Mill will reintroduce natural light and natural ventilation through the re-opening of 110 former windows, whilst state-of-the-art structural works reinforce masonry around the cast iron frame, retaining the unique character of the pioneering historic structure.

Ground source heat pumps will reduce the in-use carbon from the space heating and the Main Mill’s ridge and furrow roof provides an ideal location for a photovoltaic array.

An innovative virtual reality tour allows members of the design team and contracting team to explore issues on site.


Narrow Module Image
Quote Image

"This is the most important building of the modern age and it deserves to be much better known!"

Sir Peter Luff, Chair of the National Heritage Memorial Fund and Heritage Lottery Fund

"Nobody passing a scruffy, half-derelict industrial estate on the outskirts of Shrewsbury would imagine that one of the battered, red-brick structures is the ancestor of today's skyscrapers - the first iron-framed building in the world."

Maev Kennedy, The Guardian

"It is one of those rare structures that changed the world of construction and design. With its revolutionary iron frame it was the predecessor of the modern skyscraper"

Sir Neil Cossons, Chairman of English Heritage

Historic England
Building Contractor:
Croft Building and Conservation
Mechanical & Electrical Engineer:
E3 Consulting Engineers
Structural & Civil Engineer:
Landscape Architect:
LT Studio
Quantity Surveyor:
University of Salford
Cooper 8
ION Acoustics

Narrow Module Image
Explore more Leisure projects:
Explore more Workplace projects:
Explore more Creative Re-use projects: