A new door has opened on an iconic reminder of Arbroath’s industrial heritage.
Regeneration work to convert the town’s historic Baltic Mill is now complete and the first tenants of 24 new homes in the landmark building are about to receive their keys.
The near £3million Hillcrest Homes regeneration project got underway in September 2019 when Cullross and George Martin Builders began work on the A-listed building.
It now comprises one and two-bedroom properties within the preserved exterior of the building which retains its historical appearance.
Many common areas such as stairwells have also retained the period features of the mill such as original handrails and interior walls.
One of the mill’s original cast iron weighing mechanisms has also been saved and is on proud display in the building’s main lobby.
Later became whisky bond
Built in 1861, the Dens Road mill was owned by Arbroath businessman Andrew Lowson and operated as a power loom weaving factory.
It wove yarn spun in the nearby Green’s Mill, which burned down in 1991.
At his commercial peak, Lowson owned eight mills and was the largest and most important manufacturer in Arbroath.
He was reported to have had “twice as many employees and horsepower at his disposal” as his nearest competitor.
Following Lowson’s death and some ill-judged investments by his sons, Baltic Mill was sold and found a new life as a whisky bond from the early 1930s.
Following the closure of the bond in 1990, the mill sat empty for almost three decades.
Angus councillors backed the housing conversion, but the scheme had to be ratified by Scottish Ministers following an objection by Sepa over flood risk fears from the nearby Brothock Burn.
Hillcrest director of development, David Zwirlein, said: “The redevelopment of Arbroath’s Baltic Mill into good quality affordable apartments marks an exciting step in the preservation of a building which has been an historical icon in the town for many years.”
“Having sat empty for so long, we’re delighted to bring a new lease of life to the 158-year-old building, and preserve a part of Mr Lowson’s, and also Arbroath’s industrial legacy.”
Project timetable hit by pandemic
Ryan Fletcher, managing director at developers Cullross, added: “We’re thrilled to have finally completed the conversion of Baltic Mill.
“As with all historic buildings, they present many challenges during construction and Baltic Mill was no exception.
“Covid-19 undoubtedly had an impact on this project and has delayed handover by several weeks but we’ve pulled out all the stops to get these home complete as soon as possible.
“We’re really grateful to George Martin Builders, the end product is fantastic.
“It’ll be great to see the building occupied and to watch a new community grow up around it.”
Established in 1967, Hillcrest Homes is one of Scotland’s largest housing associations, offering almost 6500 homes across Dundee, Angus, Fife, Perth and Kinross, Edinburgh and Aberdeen City.