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Repurposing industrial heritage into contemporary workspace

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Castleton Mill

Castleton Mill is an affordable workspace just outside Leeds city centre that is home to a community of businesses, freelancers and remote workers. More than just a building, the Grade II listed mill and the spaces within it nurture an ecosystem of collaboration, connection and mentorship between occupiers.

The story of Castleton Mill begins in 1836 — fifteen years after the completion of the Leeds and Liverpool canal which it overlooks. Originally designed as a flax spinning mill; the building’s textile production use evolved through the second and third industrial revolutions and the mill operated as a working factory until the 1980s, by then producing duffle coats for the likes of British Steel, until the downturn across the industry saw Castleton Mill close its doors.

The derelict mill, one of only three of its kind in the country, remained unused for a number of years before it was purchased by the owners in 2013. The building had deteriorated substantially; with roof failure and water ingress resulting in rotting structural timbers and plant growth and insubstantial foundations resulting in structural movement, leaving the proud chimney particularly unstable.

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Group Ginger were appointed to bring the grade II listed industrial buildings back into productive life, taking a pragmatic view of conservation where original features are restored and repaired. The designs create a range of spaces from open plan hot desking and co-working spaces that create opportunities for collaboration to individual studios in a variety of sizes, suitable for small businesses. This arrangement allows occupiers to scale their space according to their business growth without leaving the mill.

Building condition reports and investigations determined the extent of repair and specialist skills required. A specialist steeplejack was enlisted to preserve the precarious chimney, an important part of the mill’s identity and a marker within the townscape. Newly introduced walls, floors and windows are clearly contemporary, their robust expression making them sympathetic to the historic fabric without veering into pastiche.

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Complete 2019

The Castleton Mill of today is a progressive, creative space that has remained true to its heritage of innovation and people-led design, this time serving the outputs of the fourth industrial revolution: remote workers and tech businesses.

The range of residents are testament to the success of the project and its importance within the local economy – independent businesses who are headquartered here include Effect Digital and Synap EdTech.

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