Built in 1877 during the height of the Industrial Revolution, Firth Mill stands beside the historic waterway that passes through the town of Skipton. Originally an impressive three floored building, the mill was in a dilapidated state when property developer Candelisa decided to transform it into apartments.
Because it’s located in a conservation area dedicated to preserving Skipton’s heritage, Candelisa were very keen to retain Firth Mill’s history. Original features such as the vast ceiling height windows, steel columns and timber beams would all be included in the redevelopment, which would result in 32 apartments over 2 floors.
Each apartment would include a high specification kitchen and bathroom, a bespoke floor layout and unique character features, reflecting Candelisa’s ethos: “The best of the old with the best of the new.” Even the development’s communal areas would display plenty of historical charm, by including character lighting and other original features.
Candelisa’s redesign included transforming Firth Mill’s ground floor into undercover secure parking. The first floor makes the most of the building’s ceiling height windows, as well as incorporating a number of new timber framed windows. These flood the apartments with light, while the 3.4 metre high ceiling creates a feeling of space. Every apartment features a recessed balcony and terrace, as well as the mill’s original steel columns.
The second-floor apartments were constructed into the mill’s loft space, enabling the original vaulted ceilings, exposed timber beams and trusses to remain. They also feature inset balconies with glass balustrades, which Candelisa designed to add valuable outdoor space and a touch of contemporary style. Due to the height of the roof, several top floor apartments even feature bespoke mezzanine levels.
The success of Firth Mill’s regeneration was partly down to the excellent working relationship between Candelisa’s director, the site team and Craven District Council’s surveyor Andrew Allott. Candelisa’s team were friendly and proactive, asking Mr Allott to provide professional input before any working drawings were produced. He was also given an open invitation to visit the site at any time.
While there were very few onsite difficulties in relation to building control issues, Mr Allott’s advice proved very useful when the team had to develop an early solution to the problem of fireproofing. To maintain Firth Mill’s large roof spaces and avoid unnecessary subdivision, Candelisa and Mr Allott came up with the idea of fireproofing the apartments by fitting them with water mist systems. While this wasn’t the cheapest option, it enabled them to retain the mill’s original features and comply with building regulations.
As well as liaising with the building control team, Candelisa invited energy performance experts and acoustic specialists to ensure that the apartments exceeded the required thermal and acoustic performance. The entire building was also reroofed and the stonework was upgraded.
Impressively, the regeneration of Firth Mill was completed on time and on budget. Members of the local community are thrilled with the building’s new appearance and buyers have been equally captivated, as all of the apartments sold within weeks. According to one new resident, the redevelopment has “set a supremely high benchmark for further developments in the locality, which will really stand to improve the area as a whole.”
By converting this historic mill, Candelisa have provided 32 exceptional living spaces and restored an iconic building to its former glory, retaining its heritage for future generations to enjoy.
The regeneration of Firth Mill has received a nomination for the 2018 LABC Building Excellence Awards.
Bowman Riley Architects, 0113 3917 5720
Candelisa Ltd, 01756 797476
Craven District Council, 01756 706469