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Iconic tower is revealed at Flaxmill

Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings has unveiled its newly-restored Jubilee Tower after the scaffolding that had been in place since April 2019 was removed.

The three-storey tower and its iconic coronet sit on top of the world’s first iron framed building. They have been a familiar part of the Shrewsbury skyline for over 100 years and can now be seen once again in all their glory.   

Built in 1797, Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings is currently being restored after two centuries of use, first as a flax mill, then a maltings and also as a training centre and barracks during World War II. The unveiling of the Jubilee Tower brings the main mill and kiln restoration one step closer to completion. 

As part of the restoration the Jubilee Tower has been painstakingly repaired. The leaking roof and dilapidated cladding had caused serious problems of rot to the timber framework, requiring extensive repairs. The timber cladding boards have been replaced, along with a new roof of traditional leadwork. The whole tower has been repainted in its original deep red.

Skilled craftsmen have reinstated the windows, and black metal railings have been added around the top of the tower. A small team of specialist carpenters have worked over many months to bring the timber tower back to life and, with conservation work on the wooden stairway inside of the Jubilee Tower underway, this part of the site is nearing completion. 

The locally-restored iron coronet which sits on top of the Jubilee Tower returned in January and a new eight metre flagpole now emerges from its centre. In 2019 a crowd funding campaign to save the coronet was successful in raising almost £11,000 with remaining restoration costs being donated by patrons and individuals.

After a successful early morning test of the new flagpole using the Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings flag, the first flag to be officially flown from the restored tower is 12 year old Vivian Wang’s winning entry to the 2020 Young Thinkers competition run by Morris & Company and University Centre Shrewsbury (UCS) as part of this year’s Darwin Festival.

Alastair Godfrey, Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings project lead for Historic England, said: “After being hidden behind scaffolding for over a year, it’s fantastic to see the restored Jubilee Tower revealed. It looks incredible thanks to the hard work of our contractor Croft Building and Conservation’s highly skilled craftsmen.

"It’s also great to link with Morris & Company and University Centre Shrewsbury to showcase local talent by flying the Young Thinkers winning flag. This site came about as a result of local innovation and creative thinking and Vivian’s fantastic flag design is a perfect fit and we’re proud to fly it here at the Flaxmill Maltings.”    

The restoration of the Grade I listed main mill and the Grade II kiln at Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings is taking place thanks to a £20.7m grant from National Lottery players through The National Lottery Heritage Fund, combined with additional funding from the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership via its Growth Deal with Government, and from project partners Historic England, Shropshire Council and the Friends of the Flaxmill Maltings.

Alan Mosley, chair of the Friends of the Flaxmill Maltings, said: “It’s fantastic to see the Jubilee Tower restored to how it would have looked when it was first erected over 100 years ago.  Now that the scaffolding is down, the local community can once again see and enjoy this important part of the Shrewsbury skyline.

"It’s great to see more and more parts of the Flaxmill Maltings restoration revealed and each one brings us a step closer to opening.”  

The site will become a new learning and enterprise quarter for Shrewsbury, with offices for the region’s growing creative industries. There will also be a new visitor experience and a café open to the public. The main mill and kiln will start to open for commercial tenants from autumn 2021 with the new visitor experience opening in spring 2022.


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