Home / News / How a historic chimney was brought back to life with the transformation of the listed Rutland Mills site in West Yorkshire

How a historic chimney was brought back to life with the transformation of the listed Rutland Mills site in West Yorkshire

May 04, 2023May 04, 2023

Partly demolished in 1982, the chimney has benefited from the transformation of Grade II listed Rutland Mills into a mixed-use 12,500 m2 creative industries and cultural hub known as Tileyard North.

Oscar White is structural design engineer at Civic Engineers

Rutland Mills was built in multiple stages from 1820 to 1936, with its original use as a spinning mill until 1970, and as a dance studio and artists’ workshop in later years. The mill complex had stood empty since 1999 and the condition of the nine listed buildings had deteriorated significantly in the years since.

The regeneration of Rutland Mills will create a mixed-use creative industries and cultural hub including Tileyard North and acting as home to some of the most exciting and promising artists, musicians and creative talent in the North.

One of the restored buildings will be home to a new luxury boutique hotel whilst other buildings include event venues, food and beverage spaces, workspace and music recording studios.

A key element of the work has been the restoration of the original brick chimney stub, following its partial demolition, with an eye-catching addition; a new steel lattice structure replicating its former height. The final pieces of steelwork have recently been installed and the chimney will now serve as an iconic landmark for the site.

Civic Engineers repaired and refurbished what remained of the existing chimney, while also designing the steel lattice to replicate the former structure, with the lattice steelwork weight optimised via a bespoke genetic algorithm developed in-house. Load testing of the chimney's anchorages was successfully completed in January, with the 'spigot' anchorages that transfer uplift forces from the lattice to the masonry tested to 12.5t each.

Our use of parametric design, computational engineering and genetic algorithms ensured that we could create an incredible structure at the heart of the Rutland Mills redevelopment while also providing significant weight savings to minimise the embodied carbon of the structure.

Civic Engineers' role also saw the team create a new public realm space including a new central courtyard and event area with a route through the site to the River Calder and riverside pier. The team developed a movement and servicing strategy as well as a climate responsive flood risk assessment and drainage strategy for the project.

The restored chimney promises to serve as an iconic landmark symbolising the renewal of the site and will be lit up at night once Tileyard North opens to the public.

We believe the chimney reflects exactly what the wider development will achieve. We’ve taken a historic structure and reconstructed it with a contemporary addition which is both a nod to the site's heritage and what it will become. This will be a focal point for the development in Wakefield for years to come.

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Belinda Smart