Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings was the first building in the world to use an iron framework to mitigate the risk of fire.
The mill first opened in 1797 as a purpose-built fire proof flax mill. The owners Thomas and Benjamin Benyon had been partners in a mill in Leeds which had burnt down. Charles Bage developed a unique design utilising iron technology expertise and skills available in Shropshire, for example Ironbridge.
The mill’s iron-framed design was a pioneering engineering break-through, using materials and construction methods which shaped the high-rise buildings of the future. Rows of cast iron columns supported the beams which in turn supported the arched brick ceiling. The structure was held together by metal nuts, bolts and wrought iron tie rods.
The site has grown and been repurposed and adapted many times. It was a maltings from 1897 to 1987 and a temporary army barracks during the Second World War. Following closure and dereliction, Historic England compulsory purchased the building in 2005.
With the help of a £20.7m Heritage Lottery Fund investment, a comprehensive restoration scheme has been undertaken lasting 5 years. In 2022 the Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings opened to the public offering a visitor museum, café, education workshops, museum shop, and office workspace. Housing will also be built on the site in future years