31/05/2013 - Permalink

Chinese delegation visits historic Flax Mill

Related topics: Community

A delegation of high-ranking Chinese officials have visited the Flax Mill Maltings in Shrewsbury to learn about the work taking place to regenerate the building, which is recognised as the world’s first iron-framed building and the forerunner of the modern skyscraper.

The delegates were given a guided tour, complete with demonstrations, by Chairman of the Friends of the Flax Mill Maltings, Alan Mosley and Elizabeth Perkins, project manager for the Flax Mill project.

The delegates were part of China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). The commission studies and formulates economic and social development policies on behalf of the Chinese government.

The visit to the Flax Mill was suggested by the West Midlands European Service because of the regeneration project proposed for the site. The international-importance of the site was recognised by the delegates.

Lead delegate Liu Xiaoming said projects to preserve sites such as the Flax Mill were ‘important internationally’.

Following their visit, the delegation had the opportunity to ask their questions to Alan Mosley and Elizabeth Perkins about the project.

One of the group, Zheo Yunfei, was particularly interested in the cost of restoration and desire to ‘preserve heritage’. He explained the changing attitudes to preservation in China, saying that during the ‘cultural revolution’ emphasis was placed on development at the expense of heritage sites – whereas now there was a desire to preserve remaining sites.

Mal Price, Shropshire Council Cabinet member for built environment, said:

“It’s a huge honour to have the delegation from the NDRC visit Shropshire. We have a number of historic sites here and the recognition of the Flax Mill – and the restoration project – is greatly welcomed.”

Alan Mosley, Chairman of the Friends of the Flax Mill Maltings, was tremendously proud to have the visit to the site and said:

“One thing that really emerged today was the understanding between us about the importance of preserving and redeveloping sites like these. They came from the i54 Jaguar Land Rover plant to here – one contemporary cutting edge site to a site that was at the forefront of design 225 years ago. It’s a part of our history and I was delighted at their interest and support for what we are trying to do now with the site and the widespread regeneration it will bring.”

You can listen to the BBC Radio Shropshire Interview at the Flax Mill.