Leading exhibition designers, Mather & Co, are responsible for the exhibition design, content development, and internal and external interpretation throughout the site. Mather & Co has also designed the new site tour – due to open in 2023.
The restoration of the Grade I listed Main Mill and the Grade II listed Kiln at the site has been supported by a £20.7 million grant thanks to 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.
The exhibition is split into five themes: 'Town and Transformation’, which focuses on the development of the site and how it has influenced, transformed and helped develop the town of Shrewsbury over time.
'Engineering and Build' which focuses on how Charles Bage designed this ‘fireproof textile mill’ through experimentation and innovation.
‘People and Process’ which tells of the men, women and children at the flax mill who suffered the harsh working conditions of this early industrial factory, and the experiences and memories of the maltsters and their families after the later conversion into a maltings.
'Adaptation and Change’ explaining how the site has changed to fit with the various uses; and ‘Legacy and Impact’ which details the final transformation and future legacy of the site for local people, businesses and visitors alike.
Exhibition highlights include a large 3D mill model which reveals what happened inside the building at different points in time; an interactive touch table, physical interactives taking visitors through the process of spinning thread and the many uses of flax; a floor projection telling the story of the Maltings; audio exhibits providing the opportunity to hear from former Maltings workers and their families and those involved in the restoration project in their own words; and a large wall graphic featuring an iron truss from 1840 telling the story of how Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings inspired skylines across the world.
The exhibition also features a multisensory AV experience in the old Engine House; a short film which brings the Mill’s original steam engine to life in situ and features sensory effects of the engines and machinery.
Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings has a ground-source heat pump that will part power the exhibition – there are also reused materials incorporated in the base build of the exhibition space and window ledges. The site is a flagship project for Historic England in demonstrating how historic buildings can be sustainably reused and how technology can be used in heritage sites to help tackle climate change.
Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings opens to the public on 10th September 2022.