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Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings

The Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings visitor centre is open to the public - and it's free!

Visitor centre

The centre brings together interpretations of the mill's role in the industrial revolution and the pioneers who made it happen, including:

  • How flax was processed, from the field to the end product, which include a myriad of items from ship sails to playing cards
  • The impact of the building's revolutionary iron frame on the world of architecture
  • Details of the mill's machinery and technology
  • Working conditions at the mill, including child labour
  • The change of use from Flaxmill to Maltings and the malting process

The opening of the Shrewsbury Flaxmill visitor centre is the first phase of the project with Historic England working in partnership with Friends of the Flaxmill Maltings and Shropshire Council to secure the future of this historic site. A Heritage Lottery Fund grant will allow the second phase of restoration to go ahead. Once completed, the buildings will provide a mixed use development with community, residential and commercial facilities.

Opening times

  • 1 November to Easter, Saturdays only 10am to 4pm
  • Easter to 31 October, Friday, Saturday, Sunday 10am to 4pm
  • Closed over Christmas and New Year

Follow @historicengland and @flax_maltings to stay up to date with the project.


Spring Gardens, Shrewsbury, SY1 2SX

Entrance off the A5191

Train: Shrewsbury station - 0.7 miles

Bus: 24, 64, 511 & 519

Dye house interior detail of a decorative iron roof strut.
© Historic England AA022834

History of the Flaxmill Maltings

Situated on the northern edge of Shrewsbury, the internationally-important Flaxmill Maltings site reflects a time when Shropshire led the way in engineering innovation.

The site comprises seven listed buildings, including the Main Mill, which was built in 1797 and, as the world's first iron-framed building, is the forerunner to all modern skyscrapers.

The flax business thrived and the site developed rapidly for nearly 100 years, but in the 1870's business declined, and the mill closed in 1886. The complex stood empty for over a decade before in 1897-8 the site was converted into a maltings by William Jones (Maltsters) Ltd.

The site ceased trading in 1987 and became derelict. English Heritage (now Historic England) bought the site in 2005 and carried out emergency repairs to halt the site's further decline.

Ditherington Mill and the Industrial Revolution

Ditherington Mill and the Industrial Revolution

Published 15 October 2015

New research into the world's first iron-framed fireproof building.


Completed work

Historic England announced we would take the lead on the Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings project in March 2014. A funding package of £2.6m was awarded for stage one of the project to kick start regeneration. The Department for Communities and Local Government awarded funding through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) of £1,169,226. Historic England provided the balance of the funds.

Stage one complete:

  • The office and stables have been converted for use by the Friends of the Flaxmill Maltings as an interactive visitor centre and education facility
  • The 1950's silo has been demolished, providing further external space for cultural, interpretation and public use

Five-storey red brick mill building, partially shrouded in scaffolding, photographed from ground level on a sunny day.
© Historic England SDG3134

Future work

A Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant will allow the second phase of restoration on the site to progress. With the commitment of funds from the HLF, the partnership will now focus upon restoring the 1797 Grade I listed Main Mill and Grade II listed Kiln.

When complete stage two of the project will:

  • Remove the Main Mill and Kiln from the Heritage at Risk Register
  • Create interpretation and learning space on the ground floor, along with a café, to be managed by the Friends of the Flaxmill Maltings
  • Create four floors of space available for commercial use
  • Create circulation space within the Kiln for the commercial tenants and provide access for tour visitors to the restored Jubilee Tower
  • Provide a landscaped car park with improved accessibility across the site

Historic England achieved full planning permission and listed building consent for the proposed designs in November 2016 and will begin work on site in the spring of 2017.

Historic England will also undertake a review of the current Master Plan for the wider Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings site. This includes brownfield land for residential dwellings, the potential conversion of other historic buildings and future commercial opportunities.

A full prospectus will be provided outlining the commercial opportunity in due course, but if you're interested in occupying this unique and internationally important site please contact Rebecca Reeves.

Aerial view of Ditherington Flax Mill and surrounding streets.
© Historic England

Project details

  • Location: The mill is situated on the northern edge of Shrewsbury, midway between Manchester and Birmingham, in the centre of the UK.
  • Project owner: Historic England
  • Total site area: 6.5 acres
  • Main mill area: 2,400 square feet over four floors
  • Development type: Mixed use commercial led with potential for 120 new residential units
  • Investment type: Occupiers for main mill, developer finance and co-investor for future phases

Historic England is looking for tenants and investors who wish to:

  • Become the occupiers of the world's first iron-framed building, the grandfather of all skyscrapers
  • Consider opportunities for new build development on the land surrounding the historic buildings
  • Invest in the development of the remaining historic buildigs

If you are interested in being a tenant or investor at Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings please contact Rebecca Reeves.

Historic England logo - Heritage Lottery Fund - European Union Investing in Your Future logo - Friends of the Flaxmill Maltings logo
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Rebecca Thomas

Project Coordinator

Planning Group

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