examples of our projects


Client:North East Essex Building Group
Contract Value: £1.2M
Contractor: Thomas Vale Construction Ltd


Powick Mills was almost certainly the first commercial scale hydro-electric power station constructed in Europe, and initially provided power for the street lighting of Worcester from 1894.

The Grade 1 listed building was in poor condition when planning consent was obtained by Lett + Sweetland Architects to convert the building into residential use.

The existing buildings comprise the Engine House, which formerly housed the turbines and generators, and the Boiler House, which contained the original Manager's House. The original construction of the power station was massive, with solid brick walls up to 5ft 7½ins thick, and the main floors raised 36ft above foundation level on arched vaulting.

The original roof and gables to the Engine House were missing as a result of fire damage many years previously. These have been meticulously reconstructed to the original pattern, with stone kneelers and parapets, and a range of purpose-made special brick shapes to imperial dimensions.

The developer, North East Essex Building Group, selected locally-based contractor Thomas Vale Construction Ltd to carry out the work. This was a fitting choice since Vales carried out piling works to the mill stream for the original builders in 1894.

The conversion divides the buildings into ten vertical apartments and the converted manager's house. Double height volumes are created within the apartments to create space and maximise the views and light from the existing openings and new roof glazing. Apartments have their own balconies over the river.

The scheme was awarded the Special Development House Design Award in the Birmingham Post and Mail 2000, was also commended in the Worcester City Design Award 2000, and received a Citation for best restoration and conversion in the National Homebuilder Design Awards 2001.