We’re proud to be a Patron member of the Shropshire Chamber of Commerce and it was through this membership that we were recently invited to the Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings.
If you’re not familiar with the Flaxmill site, it’s the crop of buildings situated on a large slice of derelict land off St. Michael’s Street in Ditherington, Shrewsbury.
For those who drive past every day, the main mill building, with its battery of scaffolding struts and tarpaulin roof has long remained unchanged.
In fact, new owners Historic England recognise there have been many false dawns in the redevelopment of the site – a long-held ambition to rediscover its former architectural glory.
And it’s true glory that the building should bask in – as it is the first ever iron-framed building in the world, dating back to 1797. What that means is that skyscrapers across the globe would not have been possible had it not been for the original Flaxmill founders deciding they’d had enough of wooden-framed mills burning down and deciding it was time for change. It all started in Shrewsbury.
But why bother? Why take groups of businesses around the frail structure if its future remains bleak?
Well, although no doubt a cliché in this context, this time it’s different. On our visit the site was buzzing with contractors, cherry pickers and the sound of serious structural engineering.
Thanks to Heritage Lottery Funding of more than £20million, the main mill building is being given a shot in the arm – new foundations, newly-pinned walls, and a new roof. The end goal to create shared residential, commercial and creative arts and heritage space.
Perceptively, change will be most noticeable in just a couple of months, when the temporary roof is removed. Prior to that, the original ornamental coronet installed at the top of the mill will be floodlit, and a Historic England flag will fly from it.
Why is any of this relevant to us, and PR? Well it seems to me that to floodlight a building that’s been in the shadows for so long is a real signal of a bright future when it can show off its proud history. For too long it’s hidden its light – and impressive calibre – under a bushel.
And we see this so often when we’re speaking to prospective clients.
There are stories to tell everywhere and in every company, but businesses are too busy doing the day job to realise the incredible nature of what they do, and to champion the success they’ve had.
At Zen, we’re trained storytellers and our day job is bringing the floodlight to yours.
Main image courtesy www.OriginalShrewsbury.co.uk