The Georgian Group Awards reward those who have shown the vision and commitment to restore Georgian buildings and landscapes. Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings has been awarded the Diaphoros Prize.
Constructed in 1797 as a spinning mill, producing linen thread from flax, Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings, Shropshire is a very remarkable survivor from the early part of the Industrial Revolution. Its construction was, quite simply, revolutionary, being not only the first iron-framed building in the world, but also the first fireproof building and the first fully prefabricated sectional building that was bolted together. Astonishingly, the wider mill site also includes the 3rd and 8th oldest iron-framed buildings.
The complexity and cost associated with taking on such a fragile Grade I listed building has meant that a succession of developers failed in their respective regeneration plans, and in 2005, in partnership with the local authority, Historic England acquired the site as purchasers of last resort. Temporary structural support was installed, and the site made weatherproof. Happily, in 2017 the site was awarded a £20.7m NLHF grant enabling the start of a 5-year programme of repair and regeneration works to the Main Mill.
The winning schemes were chosen from over thirty entries, with shortlisted projects encompassing a broad range of building types. John Goodall, Architecture Critic at Country Life, who awarded the prize, said: “In moments of crisis what we have seems more important than ever. So too does the process of cherishing it and handing it on to future generations as an expression of our history, identity and values.”