Industry & Infrastructure

Britain gave birth to the Industrial Revolution, with the result that we now have a substantial heritage of fine industrial buildings that, because of their scale, construction and large open floor plans, can make flexible and adaptable spaces for new industrial and non-industrial uses.

Linton Falls Hydropower Facility

Linton Falls is a rare example of a Scheduled Monument that has found an economic future by reverting to its original use, as a rural hydro-electric power station. This pioneering turbine house, built by the Grassington Electric Supply Company Ltd in 1909, provided power to the area until, with the arrival of the National Grid in 1948, small rural power stations such as this were deemed to be uneconomical. Over the years much of the equipment was removed and the turbine house lost its roof, windows and part of its masonry.

A change in its fortunes came about when the local civil engineering firm J N Bentley made the radical but welcome proposal to bring it back into use as a source of renewable energy. We recognised that the project could secure a viable long-term solution for the management and maintenance of the site and was engaged in all aspects of the project design, from feasibility, archaeological recording and historic assessment to agreeing the design details and interventions into the original fabric.

A new chapter in the building's history dawned in 2011 when power began to be supplied back to the National Grid from this humble rural building, which now generates 500,000kWh per annum, the equivalent of the average energy use per year of 90 family homes, saving 216 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year when compared to fossil fuel generation.

National recognition for the project came in 2012, when it was a finalist in the English Heritage Angel Awards, the annual competition sponsored by Andrew Lloyd Webber which celebrates the best examples of threatened heritage sites being rescued and given a new lease of life.

English Heritage [now Historic England] worked closely with J N Bentley throughout this project and their pragmatic and realistic approach was a great help in bringing this monument back to life as an operational hydro-electric power station.

Austin Flather, J N Bentley.

DEVELOPER: Linton Hydro Electric
ARCHITECT: J N Bentley Ltd
LEAD PARTNER: Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority

Cromford Mill

A case in point is Grade I Cromford Mill, in Derbyshire, the world's first successful water powered cotton spinning mill, built in 1771 by Sir Richard Arkwright. Being designated a World Heritage Site in 2001 as part of a series of historic mill complexes in the Derwent Valley was confirmation of Cromford's outstanding importance. However, such status does not come with money attached. Securing a viable future for the mill has been achieved through the tireless work of the Arkwright Society over many years, in partnership with us, the local authority and various funding agencies.

By converting suitable parts of the mill into premises for 25 business tenants, the Society has made Cromford Mill an important employment site as well as a visitor attraction. The revenue from tenants (many of whom are engaged in businesses that continue the textile legacy of the site) now enables a management team to be employed to maintain the site and develop its potential further. With the benefit of more public and private investment, an ambitious scheme for the conversion of Building 17, one of the early mills, is now under way to provide further lettable business accommodation and to enhance Cromford Mill's appeal as a base from which to explore the unique industrial heritage of the Derwent Valley.

Demand is high for business space at this famous and important site, so we are using the money generated by rents to maintain the facilities already in use and to develop our plans to restore further parts of the mill complex. That way we're creating new, flexible uses without losing what's special about the heritage. Our job is to ensure that Cromford Mill continues its legacy as a place of work and enterprise, for businesses to grow and help sustain this part of the World Heritage Site.

Sarah McLeod, Arkwright Society

DEVELOPER: The Arkwright Society (Building Preservation Trust)
LEAD PARTNERS: Derbyshire County Council, Derbyshire Dales District Council, Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Partnership

Dewar's Lane Granary

Exhibition space (this time for works of art) is also at the heart of another project to find a new use for a prominent six-storey Grade II listed former granary building in the very sensitive setting of Berwick-upon-Tweed, a town famous for the quality of its historic townscape. The granary was damaged by fire in 1815 and propped up with buttresses, giving it a distinctive tilt. In 1985 its working life came to an end and the granary lay empty and derelict until the Berwick Preservation Trust took on the challenge of finding a new use and raising the finance (over £5 million) needed for its restoration.

A major boost to the viability of the project came with agreement from the Youth Hostel Association to take on part of the granary for a new 57-bed hostel, attracting a new visitor market to the town. We provided advice and engineering expertise on important details of the conversion, notably the removal of the entire internal structure and replacement with a steel frame to resolve problems associated with the lean and the low ceiling heights. We also agreed to the lowering of a modern section of Berwick's town wall (a Scheduled Monument) to open up views of the building and improve access.

The building now houses the hostel, a bistro, a heritage interpretation space, meeting rooms, and a gallery used for major art exhibitions, and it has proved to be the catalyst for the wider regeneration of this part of the medieval town. Our grant schemes have provided funds for the repair of several more historic buildings in the adjacent Bridge Street, with a strong uptake from commercial businesses in an area of Berwick known for its independent retailers.

The refurbishment of Dewar's Lane Granary has put the life back into Bridge Street. It has given people even more of a reason to visit this part of town, which in turn has helped other local businesses. Bridge Street is now facing a much brighter future as a result.

Steve Stewart, Chief Executive, Northumberland County Council.

DEVELOPER: Berwick-upon-Tweed Preservation Trust
ARCHITECT: Bain Swan Architects
LEAD PARTNERS: Berwick-upon-Tweed Borough Council, the Youth Hostel Association, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Northumberland County Council,
One North East, the Sea Change programme

Sellers Wheel

Buildings associated with Sheffield's metal trades are now rare in a city that has seen much post-war redevelopment, but our thematic study in 2007 identified six surviving examples of the once ubiquitous workshops where cutlery and edge tools were made. Sellers Wheel, in Arundel Street, was one of these: a Grade II listed 19th-century courtyard complex that was originally occupied by the offices, warehouse, workshops and grinding rooms of John Sellers and Sons, manufacturers of pen and pocket knives, razors, table cutlery, and electro-plated goods.

Part of the complex had already been demolished at the start of an unrealised redevelopment. We hoped for a more sympathetic use for this significant building and worked closely with its new owners, Devonshire Green Holdings Ltd, to deliver a development that would generate employment and conserve this reminder of what once made Sheffield famous around the world. It helped that Sellers Wheel is located in the area designated by Sheffield City Council as the Cultural Industries Quarter, attracting music, film and digital businesses to the area. Investment had already taken place in public realm works to complement a number of restored frontages along the same street, creating a street scene of a consistently high quality within which this development now sits.

Now restored, Sellers Wheel has permission for a restaurant and café on the ground floor, with two storeys of office space above and a newly designed six-storey residential block used by the students at nearby Sheffield Hallam University. The design recognises the evidential, historical and communal significance of the building and area, has conserved and enhanced the local historic fabric and context, whilst maximising the site's income earning potential for the owner.

DEVELOPER: Devonshire Green Holdings Ltd
ARCHITECT: Cartwright Pickard Architects
LEAD PARTNERS: Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield City Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund

The Centre of Refurbishment Excellence (CoRE)

Meeting the UK's commitments to reducing carbon emissions is why Stoke-on-Trent City Council, along with Stoke College and the Building Research Establishment (BRE), have set up The Centre of Refurbishment Excellence (CoRE), as a national training facility for the techniques and materials needed to refurbish the UK housing stock to the highest modern standards in ways that conserve energy and water.

The site chosen for CoRE was a Victorian pottery, with the bottle-shaped kilns that once gave the five Stoke-on-Trent pottery towns their distinctive identity, located in a Conservation Area and listed Grade II. Between 2002 and 2006, we had grant-aided basic repairs to the bottle ovens and the workshop structures which surrounded them and were keen to encourage a benign new long-term use. When the proposal for the CoRE project emerged in 2009, we supported the City Council, BRE and PRP Architects through the design, planning and consent process, as well as by attending regular meetings on site to help resolve the technical issues that cropped up during the building works.

The historic buildings now provide 6,000m2 of flexible exhibition space where new products, components and materials can be demonstrated and training given on realistic 'house-sized' constructions. The complex also includes conference and meeting facilities that will be used to bring together key stakeholders in the retrofit community to share best practice and foster collaboration across the industry by means of a planned series of national and international events.

Education is at the heart of CoRE's success as it helps create a skilled workforce able to meet the changing demands of construction: CoRE's unique conference centre and demonstration spaces, incorporating three historic bottle kilns within the design, will be used to train all types of construction-related tradespeople and business owners as well as management level professionals on site, helping to create a workforce trained to the highest standards.

Tim Renwick, Chief Executive, Centre of Refurbishment Excellence (CoRE)

DEVELOPER: Stoke-on-Trent City Council
LEAD PARTNER: Stoke College, the Building Research Establishment