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Spillers' Tyne Mill
Quayside, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
Spillers' Tyne Mill
associated engineer
Oscar Faber
date  1936 - 1937
UK era  Modern  |  category  Building  |  reference  NZ267637
ICE reference number  HEW 2000
photo  courtesy ICE, published 1944
Tyne Mill is one of a trio of mills designed by Oscar Faber for Spillers Ltd — the others are in Cardiff and Avonmouth — and led to subsequent commissions from the company. Spillers began with a single mill in Bridgwater in around 1833, and during the 20th centruy had mills all over Britain.
Spillers’ operations were flour milling and manufacturing animal feeds, and they came to Newcastle in 1896. Grinding grain to flour produces both heat and fine dust — a combination guaranteed to be a fire hazard. The fire retardant properties of reinforced concrete, and its relative cost effectiveness, made it a popular choice for mills and other industrial buildings.
Tyne Mill comprises 96 grain silos in a single block and an attached mill building. Both are founded on some 2,000 bearing piles between 5.5m long at the west end of the silos and 13.7m long at the east end of the mill. Each pile is 406mm square reinforced concrete and was designed for a loading of 61 tonnes.
The silos can hold 40,640 tonnes of grain and occupy an area 67.1m by 27.4m. They form a cluster of vertical bins, set out in 16 rows of six, each some 4.2m square with reinforced concrete walls 150mm thick. Unusually for the time, the silos were slip-formed in continuous construction and most of the 36m high walls — from the top of the hoppers to the top of the bins — were completed within 21 days. A floor above the bins carries the feed conveyors, while another floor below the bins has the extraction conveyors.
The size of the bins was selected to suit milling requirements and was the same for each of Faber’s three mills. Individual silo capacity for each mill was achieved by varying the number of bins — Tyne Mill has the most.
Construction took place during the winter and a warming plant heated the concrete constituents before and after mixing, to control the setting time — which governs how soon the slip-form shuttering can be moved to the next lift. The concrete was usually kept at 15.6 deg C, though this could be varied to speed or delay setting times.
The mill building has the actual mill above a warehouse area. Its footprint is 88.4m by 27.4m with 12 storeys and a maximum height of 51.2m. It has reinforced concrete columns and beams, but timber floors of 100mm thick Columbian pine with a 25mm thick maple strip finish. The walls are of 280mm thick brickwork with flashing on each floor to drain the cavity.
When completed, Spillers’ Tyne Mill was the largest flour mill in Europe and apparently the tallest milling building in the world. It could process 254,000 tonnes of grain annually, brought to the mill by ship via Spillers’ Quay or by rail on the track extension along Quayside.
Part of the mill building was demolished in 1987 and replaced by a warehouse.
Contractor: Richard Costain Ltd
Research: ECPK
“Oscar Faber” by John Faber
Quiller Press, London, 1989
“Some Recent Industrial Buildings” by Oscar Faber
in: The Structural Engineer, London, November 1937
reference sources   CEH North

Spillers' Tyne Mill