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Heap's Rice Mill

A Grade II Listed Building in Riverside, Liverpool

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.3998 / 53°23'59"N

Longitude: -2.9857 / 2°59'8"W

OS Eastings: 334558

OS Northings: 389667

OS Grid: SJ345896

Mapcode National: GBR 74R.48

Mapcode Global: WH877.3TJ1

Entry Name: Heap's Rice Mill

Listing Date: 31 July 2014

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1421261

Location: Liverpool, L1

County: Liverpool

Electoral Ward/Division: Riverside

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Liverpool

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Merseyside

Church of England Parish: St Luke in the City Team

Church of England Diocese: Liverpool

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Summary

Rice processing mill and warehouse complex, early-mid-C19 with mid-C19, late-C19 and C20 additions and alterations. Brick with some sandstone and blue-brick dressings, slate, concrete tile and corrugated sheeting roof coverings. Timber frame and cast-iron construction internally with some plate-iron floors. Mainly 7-storeys.

Description

Rice processing mill and warehouse complex, early-mid-C19 with mid-C19, late-C19 and C20 additions and alterations. Brick with some sandstone and blue-brick dressings, slate, concrete tile and corrugated sheeting roof coverings. Timber frame and cast-iron construction internally with some plate-iron floors. Mainly 7-storeys.

PLAN: Heap's Rice Mill lies to the east of Albert Dock, Salthouse Dock and Wapping Dock. It is square in plan and is bounded by the former Upper Pownall Street on the north-east side, Beckwith Street on the north-west side and Shaws Alley on the south-west side. A modern apartment block abuts part of the building on the south-east side. The building complex is composed of a number of warehouses grouped together to form a single building: an early-mid C19 range forms the easternmost component of the site and is aligned north-east - south-west in an irregular reverse L-shape. Four further mid-C19 ranges (originally used by Joseph Heap & Sons as sugar warehouses and subsequently converted for use as a rice mill) form the western components of the site. These are arranged in a rectangular form with one range aligned north-west - south-east at the top (north-east side), with a range attached to its south-west side at a right angle forming a reverse L-shape. Two shorter ranges, aligned north-west - south-east are then attached to this latter range's north-west side. A former yard area, which was covered over in the mid-late 1970s, separates the two halves of the building complex and runs through the building from Upper Pownall Street to Shaws Alley.

EXTERIOR:

NORTH-EAST ELEVATION: this elevation facing the former Upper Pownall Street consists of the gable end of the early-mid C19 warehouse range, which incorporates a single full-height loading bay with an arched head, cast-iron hood, and tiered sheet-iron loading doors. The loading bay is flanked on a number of floors by segmental-headed windows, some of which have been blocked-up or altered, and three of which have replaced concrete lintels; one window retains its cast-iron shutter. Changes in brickwork on the three uppermost floors reflect the fact that this section was rebuilt following a fire in 1863. An upper section of the east corner has also been rebuilt following Second World War bomb damage. The range's south-east return incorporates a few small blocked-up window openings and is abutted by a modern apartment block at its south-western end. To the right of the early-mid C19 range is a former yard area that runs through the building complex from Upper Pownall Street to Shaws Alley and was enclosed in the mid-late 1970s through the addition of a roof and corrugated sheeting at each end. A vehicular opening with a sliding metal door exists to the ground-floor level; the yard's roof*, corrugated sheeting* and vehicular opening* are not of special interest. To the right of the enclosed yard is the 8-bay side elevation of a mid-C19 warehouse range, which has windows to each floor with sandstone lintels and a mixture of moulded-brick and sandstone sills. Most of the windows have been boarded-over externally, but some cast-iron shutters are visible. Set to the top of the elevation is a high parapet for increased fire protection that incorporates the remains of a sign upon which the painted words 'MILL' remain readable. It is possible that the parapet, which has been subject to heavy re-pointing work, has been raised from its original height, possibly following the fire in the neighbouring range in 1863. Projecting above part of the first floor is a c1970 canopy that is not of special interest*, and attached to the far right of the elevation is a probable C19 street sign reading 'UPPER POWNALL STREET'.

NORTH-WEST ELEVATION: this elevation facing Beckwith Street consists of the north-west gabled return of the mid-C19 range on Upper Pownall Street, which has two loading bays set within full-height recesses with arched heads, cast-iron hoods and tiered sheet-iron loading doors. The gable, which incorporates a parapet, is adorned with late-C20 lettering that reads 'JOSEPH HEAP & SONS LTD/ RICE MILLERS'. A probable C19 street sign reading 'BECKWITH STREET' is attached to the ground-floor right. A pair of warehouses (believed to be slightly later in date, but pre-1848) are attached to the right with a slightly taller parapet and a sandstone stringcourse that runs across the elevation half way up the building and continues across the south-west (Shaws Alley) elevation. The warehouses appear as a continuous frontage, but their subdivision can be read internally and by aerial view. The warehouse to the left has two loading bays set within full-height arched recesses with blue-brick quoining and tiered sheet-iron loading doors that flank a series of five segmental-arched windows with sandstone sills, blue-brick dressings and cast-iron shutters. Smaller stair windows with sandstone sills and lintels, and cast-iron shutters exist to the left with a doorway at the base. The warehouse to the right is similarly styled, but has a single loading bay with the same segmental arched windows, stair windows and ground-floor doorway to the left. The use of blue-brick dressings on both of these warehouses, as well as tie bars flanking the loading bays, suggests that their windows and loading bays were possibly altered in the late-C19 when the ranges became part of the rice mill. Set to the base of all the elevation's loading bays are protective timbers designed to protect the building from being damaged when goods are first lifted. As on the north-east elevation, and also on the south-west elevation, it is possible that the parapet, which has been subject to heavy re-pointing work, has been raised from its original height, possibly following the fire in the early-mid C19 range in 1863.

SOUTH-WEST ELEVATION: this elevation facing Shaws Alley is formed of two warehouses; that to the left forms the south-west return of the southernmost warehouse on the Brunswick Street elevation. The warehouses appear as a continuous frontage, but their subdivision can be read internally and by aerial view. Both incorporate a single loading bay set within a full-height arched recess with blue-brick quoining and tiered sheet-iron loading doors. Set to the centre of the elevation is a series of segmental-arched windows with blue-brick dressings, some of which have been bricked-up. Again the use of blue-brick dressings and tie bars, as well as ghost marks in the brickwork revealing the location of former windows and a probable central loading bay, suggest that this elevation underwent a makeover when the ranges became part of the rice mill in the late-C19. Modern lettering affixed to the top left of the elevation reads 'ANGLO AUSTRALIAN/ RICE LTD'. A c1966 canopy projects outwards above the first floor and across the left loading bay, underneath which are three inserted shoots (believed to be of a similar mid-C20 date) that would have been used to convey rice out of the building into waiting tankers; both the canopy* and shoots* are not of special interest. A modern fire escape, which is not of special interest*, has been added to provide access into the first floor of the right loading bay. A C20 street sign reading 'SHAWS ALLEY' is attached to the far left of the elevation. To the right of the warehouses is the south-west end of the enclosed former yard, which is identically styled to the north-east end; again the yard's roof*, corrugated sheeting* and vehicular opening* are not of special interest. To the right of this is the 2-bay south-west gable-end of the early-mid C19 warehouse range, which has bricked-up paired windows to some of the floors. Abutting the range's south-east return at this end is an early-C21 apartment building.

INTERIOR: internally the building complex has a fireproof timber and cast-iron construction (rice milling was a volatile process that produced a lot of dust) with brick internal walls and a mixture of timber and iron-plate floors supported by cast-iron columns and joists. In certain areas of the building brick arches also spring from cast-iron beams supported by cast-iron columns (a method of construction used by Jesse Hartley at Albert Dock) and wrought-iron ties. It is believed that surviving fireproofing elements in the earliest range were most probably introduced following the 1863 fire. It is also probable that fireproofing modifications were also made to the western ranges following this time. The individual warehouse ranges remain readable internally and are linked by various doorways. They are largely open-plan, although some later partitioning has been inserted to create office and staff rooms and kitchenettes. Stairs within the building complex, include timber, cast-iron and metal examples of both early and later date, as well as an early sandstone and iron spiral stair. The main stairs in the western half of the complex are set within brick stair chambers with metal doors leading off to the various floor levels (a fireproofing measure); a cast-iron stair on the north-west side of the building has largely been removed. Conveyors and trapdoors, many of which appear to be probably C20 in date, exist throughout the building complex and would have been used to transfer the rice between floor levels. The uppermost floors were not inspected, but photographs reveal that early timber roof trusses exist in at least part of the building complex, along with surviving hoist machinery, some of which (from photographic evidence) would appear to possibly be C19 in date. Photographs of one of the upper floors also appear to show rope harnesses hanging from the beams that would have secured the warehousemen as they pulled goods into the building.

The enclosed yard that dissects the building from Upper Pownall Street through to Shaws Alley contains C20 silos/hoppers* at each end that are not of special interest. Late-C19 high-level pedestrian bridges, which have been altered and enclosed in the C20 with asbestos sheeting, also span the towering space. The warehouse elevations on either side of the enclosed yard retain their doorways and segmental-arched window openings (some of the windows have been bricked-up), as well as loading bays with most of the tiered sheet-iron loading doors and cast-iron hoods intact. A series of large round-arched ground-floor windows set towards the south-west end of the space on the north-west side (one of which appears to retain its original multipaned glazing) possibly lit offices originally. A large doorway with a replaced door unit and a 4-light fanlight above also exists to the south-east side.

* Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 ('the Act') it is declared that these aforementioned features are not of special architectural or historic interest.

History

Early supplies of rice first came to Europe from Italy, but in the C18 rice was imported from the Carolinas in the United States, Bengal, and Madras. Improved technology in the C19 enabled rice to be imported in its husk state, known as 'Paddy', which helped to protect the grain. The husk then had to be removed and the rice polished; the main centres for this flourishing trade being London, Liverpool, Bremen and Hamburg.

In the mid-C19 the flow of rice into Europe was disrupted by various events, including the Indian Mutiny of 1857-8, the American Civil War in 1861-5, the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 and the Indian Slavery Act 1843. Consequently, European merchants and millers looked to British-ruled Burma for their supplies. Messrs Joseph Heap & Sons Ltd of Liverpool is believed to be one of the earliest European rice firms to start operating in Lower Burma, and in 1864 the company was sending its own ships (the Diamond H Line) to acquire 1000 tons of 'Cargo rice' for their Liverpool mills. Heap & Sons' successful trade led to the arrival of other European firms that established themselves in four ports: Rangoon, Akyab (now Sittwe), Bassein, and Moulmein. Together they formed a network of milling and exporting firms supplying the growing demand for rice in Europe and other parts of the world.

Joseph Heap (1762-1833) first constructed a rice mill at Pownall Street, Liverpool in c1778. The present Heap's Rice Mill, located at the junction of Beckwith Street, Upper Pownall Street and Shaws Alley in the Baltic Triangle area of Liverpool, was constructed in a number of phases: the first part being a south-eastern range erected as a rice mill in the early-mid C19. This was followed in the mid-C19 by a series of warehouse ranges constructed to the north-west across a yard area for the storage of sugar (also operated by Heap & Sons); these warehouse ranges were subsequently adapted for use as a rice mill by 1890 and the site amalgamated into a single use. Joseph Heap & Sons Ltd also had other premises in Liverpool, including at 2 The Temple and 24 Dale Street, and on the south side of Shaws Alley.

The rice mill remained in operation until 2005. It has been disused since this time.

Reasons for Listing

Heap's Rice Mill is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural form: it is a good example of an early and mid-C19 warehouse complex adapted in the late-C19 for a single unified use as a rice processing and storage site; its austere styling being characteristic of the C18 and C19 warehouse buildings that have played a significant role in contributing to Liverpool's World Heritage Site status;

* Location: it is an imposing and highly prominent building complex set within Liverpool's Baltic Triangle adjacent to the southern docks of Albert Dock, Salthouse Dock and Wapping Dock, and it remains as one of the earliest and last surviving warehouse complexes in this once thriving industrial area, acting as an important physical reminder of the area's rich trading links and mercantile history;

* Historic interest: its links to the Far East and the Burmese rice trade reflect Liverpool's prominence and international significance as a port city in the C19;

* Planning and survival: despite some later alteration the building's historic character survives and the interior planning and function remain evident; the individual warehouse units each still remaining clearly readable. Numerous interior features also survive, including stairs, heavy softwood timber roof trusses, and possible C19 hoists;

* Adaptation and development: the introduction of later-C19 fireproofing measures, both externally and internally, reveal not only the prosperity and importance of the Heaps' business at that time, but also the changing technology and developments in Liverpool's warehouse construction in the C19.

* Group Value: its group value with the Scandinavian Seamen's Church, Park Lane, (listed at ll*) not only because of their proximity but because both buildings represent part of Liverpool's maritime history.

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