WALLBRIDGE MILLS, THE RETREAT, FROME, SOMERSET
The project repaired and converted Wallbridge Flour Mills, Frome to a self-sufficient building for living and working on an island site at the confluence of the river Frome and Rodden brook.
Three listed mill buildings of 16th, 19th and 20th centuries had been badly vandalised, resulting in two being roofless, floors destroyed, remaining cast iron windows damaged by attempts to remove them. A corn hoist hung precariously after fire swept through the roof, threatening the stability of the whole structure. The buildings and site, which is prone to regular flooding, had been regarded by the local authority and environment agency as beyond reuse.
The South mill has been converted to a residence for the owners, with a publishing office at the first floor entrance level. Original features such as remaining floors, windows and grinding stones have been carefully conserved. The water turbine on the ground floor restored and adapted to electricity generation, makes the building energy self sufficient.
Client Lynne Curry:” People used to turn white at the sight of Wallbridge Mills. Now they turn green. Thoughtful design exploits both the dramatic and seductive riverside setting and centuries of character. The buildings fulfil our exact requirements – living, working, a small B&B – and, just as importantly, lift the morale of local people no end.“
Phase 1 of the project received the RIBA Countryside Design Award 2001 and is now seen by the local planning authority as a beacon of best practice for sustainable reuse upon which subsequent mill conversions and conservation projects in the area are compared.