Ditherington Flax Mill
Ditherington Flax Mill , located in Ditherington, a suburb of Shrewsbury, England, is the oldest iron framed building in the world. As such, it is seen as the "grandfather of skyscrapers", despite being only as tall as a modern five-story building. Its importance was officially recognised in the 1950s, resulting in it becoming a Grade I listed building. It is also locally known as the "Maltings" from its later use. It is presently derelict, but is currently in the hands of English Heritage. Plans to transform the site into homes, offices and shops were given approval in October 2010. The Flax Mill's architect was Charles Bage, who designed the mill using an iron-framed structure, inspired by the work of William Strutt. The construction of the mill ran from 1796 to 1797, at a cost (including equipment) of £17000. The mill was built for John Marshall of Leeds, Thomas Benyon, and Benjamin Benyon. The architect, Bage, was also a partner in the venture. This partnership was dissolved in 1804, the mill being retained by John Marshall, who paid off his partners on the basis that it was worth £64000. The other partners built themselves another mill nearby. These two flax mills provided the 'chief manufacture' of Shrewsbury (according to an 1851 directory). The mill closed in 1886, and was sold (with a bleach yard at Hanwood for a mere £3000. The building was then converted to a maltings (hence its more commonly-used local name), and as a consequence many windows were bricked up. Its design effectively overcame much of the problem of fire damage from flammable atmosphere, due to the air containing many fibres, by using a fireproof combination of cast iron columns and cast iron beams, a system which later developed into the modern steel frame which made skyscrapers possible. Along with the main Flax Mill, a number of other buildings in the group are listed for their architectural and historic value: the apprentice house (Grade II*); the dye house (Grade II*); the flax dressing building (Grade II*); the flax warehouse (Grade II); the stables (Grade II); and the workshops and offices (Grade II). The mill and buildings are on the Buildings at Risk Register.