Millennium Mills: developers catch up with Docklands’ last relic

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Millennium Mills: developers catch up with Docklands' last relic
The mill looms over the local landscape and is a familiar sight to users of the nearby London City airport. // © Martin Godwin
Millennium Mills: developers catch up with Docklands' last relic
The mill looms over the local landscape and is a familiar sight to users of the nearby London City airport. // © Martin Godwin

The pigeons, graffiti artists, urban explorers and moody film-makers are to be expelled from the last derelict post-industrial landmark of London’s Docklands, the hulking Millennium Mills in Silvertown, which has sat decaying for half a lifetime.

The former flour mill complex, familiar to every passenger flying in or out of London City airport, where the runway is only separated from it by a narrow strip of water once employed hundreds of East Enders. Its giant art deco rooftop sign, 10 storeys above the water of the Royal Docks, dominates the local landscape, and the site has the proud boast of being the place that Winalot dog biscuits were first made.

The mill closed down in 1992 after years of decline and, though officially abandoned, the giant buildings have rarely been empty since: film-makers, music video creators and a variety of unofficial visitors have all been in, many leaving their mark on the building.

It has starred as a spectacularly grimy urban setting in the Stanley Kubrick film Full Metal Jacket, Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, and Derek Jarman’s The Last of England, as well as the television series Ashes to Ashes, and music videos including Snow Patrol’s Take Back the City. []

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