The gorgeous 1836 flax mill was once the largest room in the world
Temple Works—one of the most iconic industrial buildings in the U.K.—was scheduled to go up for auction on December 7, with a starting bid of just £1 ($1.35). But an eleventh hour sale has averted what could have been a preservation crisis.
A day before the auction, U.K. developer CEG swooped in to purchase the historic structure, saying it was “pleased to become the custodian of an important element of the city’s historic culture” and agreeing to work with the city council on redevelopment.
The original auction had shocked locals who’d hoped the site’s current owners would work with the city to find an appropriate buyer with a proper plan and the means to restore the decaying structure. Renovation and refurbishment of the enormous building is estimated at £20 million ($27 million).
Built in 1836, the former flax-spinning factory was designed in the style of the Egyptian Temple of Horus at Edfu, and boasts a facade decorated with hieroglyphics and large columns capped by lotus capitals. But the Grade I-listed Temple Works has more than beauty to its name. Its two-acre factory floor was once the largest room in the world, and was home to the world’s first hydraulic elevator, which was used to bring sheep up to its roof to graze.
A partial collapse of the structure in 2008 left the building in a bad state, though it was used as cultural center for several years after. In 2015, Burberry unveiled plans to develop the building into a factory and showroom but that plan fell through after Brexit.