back to article Blueprint of modern construction can be found in a tech cluster... of 19th century England

The top of Flaxmill Maltings' Jubilee Tower makes you feel like you're standing on the highest turret of a massive castle built to command Shropshire. You can look down on suburbia and ahead to the centre of Shrewsbury, while in other directions the Wrekin is to the east and the Welsh hills are to the west. But your eye will …

  1. Korev Silver badge

    Geek's guide

    Thank you for a very interesting article.

    One for the author (it's almost lunchtime) -->

    1. SA_Mathieson

      Re: Geek's guide

      Cheers Korev, will enjoy something equivalent this evening.

  2. WibbleMe

    As a local I welcome this, Shrewsburys centre has a slight London look and has a excellent road transport system for anyone wanting to visit, the whole area including (Telford kind of startup city like Milton Keens with less concrete) is a great place to run a business as wages are 30%-40% lower than London, low crime rate, lower cost of living and Englands second least populated county, plenty of business parks right next to Shropshire's own AONB.

    If you want to do quick Google of places, Ironbridge, Muchwenlock, Coalport, Bishpos Casle, Stokesay Castle, Ludlow, Stipple Stones, Attingham park, Clee Hill, Lyth Hill Country Park

  3. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    A good short-break destination area

    Have to say that whole area is very good for a short (or indeed not-so-short) holiday for people interested in heritage industry and that sort of thing.

    Not just the whole Ironbridge area (there's a lot more than just the bridge - Enginuity plus several interesting museums all available on one ticket price), but Blist's Hill and of course now this as well.

    A few years back we did a week in the area, and it was very enjoyable and fascinating (and I'm not sure we saw everything even then). Would certainly recommend it, a very good time indeed.

  4. defiler

    "it does less better with tension"


    1. itzman

      Re: "it does less better with tension"

      I was about to say 'Must try harder' as well

  5. Pen-y-gors


    I visit Shrewsbury from time to time, and will definitely try and visit.

    When I moved into my cottage it had a couple of Coalbrookdale stoves - a Much Wenlock for hot water and radiators, and a Little Wenlock for heating the sitting room. Lovely. The fun bit was when I found an old invoice for when the mine offices next door were being built in the 1850s, and showed they bought a stove from Coalbrookdale as well. The invoice even notes how it was delivered - no Amazon prime! Railway to Rednal, then Canal to Newtown, then by cart to Machynlleth to be left at a slate quarry to be ollected for the last stage on another cart. (This was before the trains)

    Shame they no longer exist!

  6. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    And not that far away...

    Is the Llangollen Railway. If you are going to visit the Aqueduct then it is only a few miles onto the Railway.

    {Shameless plug as I'm a part owner (small) of one of the locomotives that is running on the railway.}

    1. wallaby

      Re: And not that far away...

      A friend of mine used to live in Glyndyfrdwy, used to love being over there and watching all the steam trains whiz past the bottom of his garden.

  7. GlenP Silver badge


    I'm just back from a holiday visiting Ironbridge and Shrewsbury (and the Llangollen Railway). Hopefully when the museum is open it will provide an excuse to go back again!

  8. Admiral Grace Hopper


    A beautiful county. Lots of wonderful walking, fascinating history, much to explore and some interesting and unique rock climbing on Wenlock Edge, Pontesford Rocks and Nesscliffe. I can highly recommend the Rocke Cottage Tea Rooms in Clungunford.

    I worked in Telford for many years and while it has much to recommend it as a place of employment, I wouldn't rush back. It turns out that you did have to pay me to make me go there.

    1. Andrew Newstead

      Re: Shropshire

      Aah, Bird on the Rock Tea Rooms. Know them well. Their cream teas are epic!

  9. HighTension

    And Shropshire and the Marches have some fantastic pubs!

    1. Pen-y-gors

      Oh yes!

      A few years ago I spend a couple of weeks in a cottage in Bishops Castle, in the courtyard of the Three Tuns Brewery, and about 20 yards from their pub. Ah, bliss! Several other excellent pubs in the town too, and the beer is absolutely marvellous.

  10. ForthIsNotDead

    Wow! Go Shrewsbury!

    As a Shrewsbury born and bred lad, I'm so happy to see this article on my favourite web site! Thanks VERY much to the author for writing this.

    Some more information on the Maltings: It was in use a maltings/brewery right up into the late 80s from what I remember. I would walk past it twice a day on my way to school and back (1985-1987). Back then, they brewed Skol lager there.

    During WWII, an air raid siren was fitted in the top tower, and this was still in use in the 1970s (I definitely remember it still being in use in 1975/76) as the shift-change siren! You could hear it for miles, all across Shrewsbury. It must have been de-commissioned some time later as it wasn't in use in 80s. I lived on the main road (St. Michaels Street) and we would have heard it for sure!

    For visitors: The Maltings stands on the main road heading into the town centre: St. Michaels Street. If you follow this road all the way into the town centre, you'll come to Shrewsbury train station on your left-hand side. Look up. There stands a 900 year old castle, still open to visitors to this day (it's a military museum). Keep going up the same road (it's now called Castle Street, but it's the same road). The road pitches upwards and turns to the right. Look to your right. There stands the huge statue of Charles Darwin, outside (what was then) Shrewsbury School, where he was educated. It's now the public library and worth a visit in its own right. It's beautiful.

    Carry on up the road another 100 yards and you're in Shrewsbury town centre. LOOK UP. All the medieval buildings are right there. See if you can find Traitors Gate (where a traitor opened the gate at the river Severn to let the parliamentarians in to do battle with the kings' supporters).

    Historically, the town is massive. Make sure you pay a visit to Wyle Cop, and just look at the buildings. Go into the Lion Hotel and have a drink, and ask about the history of the place. It's fascinating.

    (I promise I'll shut up in a minute, but it's my home town, and I love it very much, though sadly I don't live there anymore).

    For Geeks Guide to Britainers: From the Maltings, if you go in the opposite direction on St. Michaels Street, you'll eventually come to Heathgates. Can't miss it: Big traffic island, and the Heathgates Pub in front of you. Take the first exit on the island on to Whitchurch road. Carry on up the road. Morrisons supermarket is on your left side. When you go past the car-park entrance to Morrisons, immediately after that is the Old Sentinel Works, where the Sentinel company made their steam wagons and road rollers for use all across Britain, and indeed the world. Amazingly, after the Sentinel works closed, it became Rolls Royce (building aircraft engines and the like during WWII right up until the early 80s IIRC, then Vickers Engines, where tank engines and the like were made. TODAY however it is... The Sentinel Works again! A group of enthusiasts have bought the building, and are re-building and renovating steam engines and steam wagons inside the works.

    Shrewsbury is a lovely town, and if you go during August, you can visit the Shrewsbury Flower Show (one of the longest running flower shows in the world) which has a lot more going on than just flowers, and has one of the best fireworks displays you'll ever see anywhere in the world.

    Tell 'em ForthIsNotDead sent you!

    Thanks again to the author!

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Wow! Go Shrewsbury!

      "It was in use as a maltings/brewery right up into the late 80s"

      There's something lovely about the smell of a brewery, I used to go past one on my way to school, and the smell still takes me back.

    2. SA_Mathieson

      Re: Wow! Go Shrewsbury!

      It was a pleasure to visit, and I'm definitely going back when Flaxmill Maltings opens as offices and a museum. Thanks for adding your memories.

    3. Pen-y-gors

      Re: Wow! Go Shrewsbury!

      And if you like flowers, then in late July, at Wem (not too far away) they have their Sweet Pea show. A total sensory overload!

  11. Kubla Cant

    columns, which could cope with up to 2.5 times their normal load. If one was broken, those surrounding it could collapse under the extra weight

    Is this a bug or a feature? My knowledge of structural engineering is limited, but it sounds like there is sufficient redundancy to survive failure of a single column.

    Fascinating write-up, nonetheless. This is now on my list of places to visit (as long as the columns haven't all collapsed).

  12. Tim99 Silver badge

    William Strutt

    The Thomas Strutt mentioned is very probably William: "Thomas Strutt, a builder of textile mills. In 1792, Strutt had come up with the idea of building mills with some iron columns, as well as encasing timber within brick and plaster, to make them less flammable" - Wikipedia link.

  13. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    "passed to Historic England"

    .. isn't quite how it happened.

    Historic England and English Heritage used to be the same organisation - English Heritage ratained the name and became a charity[1] focussed on management of the various sites that they have in trust for the nation.

    Historic England was the rest of what used to be English Heritage - all the statutary parts and the bits that do Government work (advice on Listing et. al.).

    [1] Government budget cycles really don't work with conservation work - sometimes budget would be allocated to work that, for some reason or other, couldn't be done that budget cycle. In becoming a charity, EH is freed from that budget cycle and can manage the budgets in a manner more appropriate for conservation of the buildings that they manage. Historic England remains a government organisation, reporting to DCMS.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. SA_Mathieson

      Re: "passed to Historic England"

      This is indeed the full version. I used "passed" to avoid spending several sentences explaining a fairly complex bit of civil service-NGO demerging.

  14. earl grey

    Thank you

    Being on the other side of the pond it's unlikely i'll get there, but i surely appreciate the write-up and history lesson all-in-one. You deserve another.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Ditherington, lets stop Shrewsbury claiming they own it. Anyway, shops, offices and some natty museum? With Brexit surely we need to actually start having some mills and industry back in this old industrial heartland? Flax and Hemp could well be our future! :)

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Iron-framed buildings?

    "But the world's great cities rely on this construction technique for offices, housing, bridges and monuments – imagine Manhattan without skyscrapers, Paris without the Eiffel Tower or Sydney without the opera house or harbour bridge.."

    It's a fascinating article about a fascinating building. And Sydney's Opera House is another amazing building which does indeed use steel in its construction. But the Opera House's structure is made from reinforced concrete rather than having an iron or steel frame as in the case of Flaxmill Maltings:


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Iron-framed buildings?

      Great article - thanks!

      Another building worth a visit is Oriel Chambers in Liverpool, finished in 1864 and is the world's first metal-framed building with a glass curtain wall - the direct ancestor of the modern skyscraper.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ironbridge - the the world's first iron-constructed bridge?

    Strictly speaking and being fully pedantic about it, it's the world's first full size cast iron arch bridge to be completed. Various iron chain simple suspension bridges predate it, some by centuries.

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