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Trip down memory lane for ex-Flaxmill workers as restoration continues

By Jordan Reynolds | Shrewsbury | News | Published:

Former workers of the Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings were given a behind-the-scenes tour of the latest work carried out as part of the building's £30 million restoration.

Ex-employees of the Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings were given a tour of the restoration work

The group were shown around the Maltings for the first time in years, and had a chance to reminisce about their past working life.

The ex-employees had held a raft of positions at the Flaxmill. They included drivers, hands-on barley workers and the head malter and ex-manager.

Richard Benjamin, the Friends of the Flaxmill Maltings co-ordinator, said it was "amazing" to see the group talking and sharing memories about the building.

He said: "We had a group of about 10 ex-employees in to give them a tour.

"Nick Hill, the project director at Historic England has given them a talk about the building and what is going on here.

The Flaxmill is currently in the midst of a multi-million pound regeneration project

"We've taken them on a tour around the top of the building to look at the roof.

"It's amazing watching them talking together and sharing memories.

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"I think it's been very much appreciated, and from our point of view it's not all altruistic, we want to find out about what happened and the changes to the building where we can get it straight from the horse's mouth.

"We've got the ex-manager who worked here up until it closed, he told us there were big plans for this place and in the end it never actually went ahead and it closed down.

A cut-through image of how the building will look

"We also had the head malter here, some of the guys who were drivers and some of the people who were turning the barley.

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"Generally it's been very positive about the work and they're very understanding about it taking a long time to get going, the stuff that's going on now is amazing.

"Some of them know each other and see each other socially, but not many so it's a lovely experience seeing them greet each other, all old friends meeting up after some years so that was quite nice.

"We did something similar about five or six years ago and showed a few of them around so it's great to bring them up to date."

Changes

Mr Benjamin said that a number of developments have taken place since the group's last visit.

"The biggest development is the roof is now all water tight so the big canopy has come off the top," he added.

"Some of the windows have been opened up as they were partially bricked up in 1897, so it's back to the way it was originally.

Another view of the Flaxmill

"The maltings windows are staying as they are as it was 90 years of the Flaxmill and 90 years of Maltings.

"We're also making the structure safe and it should be done by the end of the year and the scaffolding will be gone.

"It's all been happening behind the scenes. The next few months will see lots of new changes.

"The next stage will be kitting out the inside."

Derelict for decades, the Maltings’ Office and Stables, converted in recent years with funding received from the European Regional Development Fund, are now an interactive visitor and education centre, run by the Friends of the Flaxmill Maltings.

A partnership led by site owners Historic England is now restoring the 1797 Grade I-listed Main Mill and Grade II listed 1898 Kiln thanks to £20.7 million from the National Lottery.

The refurbishment will include the creation of a new interpretation and learning space and café on the ground floor of the Main Mill; space for commercial use on the upper floors; and improved accessibility across the site.

The Flaxmill Maltings are currently open to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Jordan Reynolds

By Jordan Reynolds
Reporter - @jreynolds_star

Senior reporter at the Express & Star.

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