Liskeard flour mill
In 2023 the team went back to the flour mill to see how the building had been brought back to life.
The Grand Designs flour mill in Liskeard, Cornwall, dates back 500 years and had been abandoned for more than 60 years when Leigh and Richard set their sights on it.
In the final episode of the early 2021 series of Grand Designs, Kevin McCloud met the dynamic couple, who moved from Derbyshire to Cornwall to undertake the conversion of the near-derelict building. Despite being full of rotten timbers, riddled with structural cracks and strewn with rusty machinery and millstones, Leigh and Richard were determined to make it their home.
What follows is what happened on the original show, plus the update from Season 24, Episode 7 of Grand Designs, when Kevn revisited the house to see how it had moved on.
Renovating on a budget
Taking a huge leap of faith, they put their business on hold and sold their house to move 250 miles to live in a caravan on-site. With no experience of building or restoration, and a budget of only £250,000, Richard and Leigh’s highly ambitious plan was to faithfully restore the outside and retain as much of the history and magic inside as possible.
But they also needed to create a warm and contemporary three-bedroom home, and they planned to complete the flour mill conversion in just 12 months.
Employing traditional craftsmen to start work on restoring the exterior, it wasn’t long before the true scale of the damage to the walls, structure and roof was revealed. As the money poured out, Richard and Leigh were forced to do more and more work themselves – including almost all the interiors.
Exhausted, alone and with the Covid-19 pandemic making materials and labour difficult to get hold of, the battle to finish the flour mill conversion became all-consuming.
At the end of the original episode, the downstairs had been completed, and the first-floor living room had been transformed into a cosy living space. Guest bedrooms were still a pile of building materials, and the master bedroom in the roof was empty. Running £50,000 over budget, there was a lot left to do.
Revisit in 2023
Returning to the house in August 2023, Kevin found the mill transformed. Gone was the building site, replaced with a lush landscape, with the house surrounded by beauty and gardens, with even the solar panels nestled among flowers.
On the ground floor, the kitchen felt warm and cosy. Heated by a biomass boiler in the back of the dining room, with underfloor heating on every floor, the couple explained that the house is energy efficient to run. A large part of that is down to the insulating lime render. A Cornish product, it’s an inch thick on the wall: it has fibre and foam glass beads in it, which effectively insulates and allows the building to breathe.
The bedrooms had been finished, with two guest rooms occupying the second floor, each with its ensuite. On the top floor, Leigh and Richard’s bedroom sits nestled underneath the old trusses, complete with the original grain pulleys. There’s even a bathroom upstairs, complete with a metal bath that suits the property’s beginnings and industrial past.