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Secret Second World War History Revealed at Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings

As work continues apace on the rescue of the world's first iron-framed building, a remarkable wartime discovery has been made on site.

Recent repair work on the Cross Mill building has uncovered a large amount of writing and drawings beneath many layers of flaking paint which lay undisturbed for decades.

Drawing of two aircrafts on a wall
Drawings of Second World War British (top) and German (bottom) aircraft discovered on a wall in the Cross Mill building at the Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings site

Graffiti at the "Rat Hotel"

Further investigation and research by the Friends of the Flaxmill Maltings has revealed that the 'graffiti' dates back to the Second World War when the site was used as Light Infantry Barracks and its residents named it the "Rat Hotel". The graffiti includes drawings of military aircraft, seemingly random lists of numbers and the names and numbers of many servicemen.

Drawing of an aircraft on a wall
Drawing of Second World War British aircraft

Private Scarrett left his mark

Although some of the writing is difficult to decipher, one of the names and service numbers uncovered is still legible. Private Scarrett left his mark in May 1940, the month when Churchill became Prime Minister and preparations for the Dunkirk evacuations began. Scarrett served with the Durham Light Infantry, a surprising discovery as it was previously believed that most of those stationed at the Flaxmill were with the Kings Shropshire Light Infantry.

Private Scarrett was listed as a casualty of the Western Desert in 1942.

Graffiti on a wall
Names and numbers of servicemen drawn on the wall at the Cross Mill

Get involved

Do you know someone who spent time in the Flaxmill when it was an army barracks? We'd love to hear from you.

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The words Albrew Maltsters Limited Shropshire Maltings printed on the side of the Cross Mill building
Side view of the Cross Mill at the Shrewsbury Flaxmill site
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