Norwich mill given new lease of life

A Victorian water mill once used to power the Norwich sewerage system will soon be converted to green office space, thanks to a UEA business student.

New Mills on the River Wensum, off Oak Street, has sat unused for decades, but at one time used water wheels to pump waste around underneath the city.

UEA students working on a project for their MBA in Strategic Carbon Management were given the task of redeveloping the building by investment group Morgan Partners.

It will use an Archimedes screw, a form of screw pump invented more than 2,000 years ago, to generate power from the water that flows underneath the building to run lights, computers and other devices for companies based at offices inside.

Student Stephen Young, 56, was so pleased with the plans that he planned to invest his own money in the project.

When not studying for his MBA in Norwich and living on the UEA campus he lives in a restored and converted textile mill in Yorkshire that has its own hydroelectricity scheme.

Mr Young said: 'The system that's in there uses hydro-power to drive the city of Norwich sewerage system. It was used in 1875 to move sewerage.

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'The only other one in the country is sitting under the Houses of Parliament.'

A 65kw Archimedes screw will be used to generate power, generating 550mw of free electricity every year.

The developers are currently negotiating a lease with the owners of the building, Norwich City Council, and hope to be able to start work on construction in 2011.

'We made recommendations to convert it into social entrepreneur space. We'd be powering the space from renewable energy,' said Mr Young.

'It's been a long process but these things take time. This site, it's got a long, long history of recovering energy from the water.

'There's been history of a mill at that site since the 1400s.

'It's a grand Victorian structure, it was built to last. It's got beautiful beams inside and it needs to be brought back to life,' he added.

The project has been made possible because of the UEA course, which uses real consultancies with business in place of theoretical dissertations.

'It's great fun, it's a very creative program,' said Mr Young.

? Are you working on an unusual project? Call reporter Matthew Sparkes on 01603 772439 or email