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Question Date :

Monday 4th July 2011 10:03

I see that there is still a malthouse in Warminster. Could you tell me something of its history please?

Malting has been carried out in Warminster for many centuries, as was the case with many towns but Warminster is different in that the industry still continues today. The earliest known maltster was mentioned in the 1550s and by the end of the 17th century there were several prosperous maltsters, including the Bucklers and Adlams. By 1720 there were 36 malthouses and by the mid 18th century the Warminster malt trade was said to be bigger than at any other town in the west of England with Bristol and much of Somerset being supplied from the town. 'Warminster Malt' was a familiar sign on Somerset public houses. Members from many of the town's principle families, including the Bucklers, Wanseys, Aldridges and Slades, were maltsters.

By the early 19th century the trade had declined somewhat but it was still large. In 1825 there were still 25 malthouses and about 12 maltsters. By 1860 many malthouses had been demolished and there were fewer maltsters (six firms) but it was said that the malting capacity had increased. In 1880 there were only two firms remaining.

The most famous name in local malting was that of Dr. Edwin Sloper Beaven, and his reputation is international. He was born in 1857 to a Heytesbury farming family, who moved to Boreham Farm at Warminster in 1868. Dr. Beaven said that he began to observe barley closely from 1878 and he became associated with Frank Morgan, Warminster's leading m. Beaven's first experiments had been with onions and potatoes but from 1900 he was growing, selecting and crossing barley from seven initial different 'races'. In 1904 he acquired fields on the Boreham Road for a nursery and in 1914 he launched 'Beaven's Plumage Archer' strain of barley and continued with seed trials for the next 27 years. Beaven could claim that 85% of the total U.K. acreage of barley was grown from the progeny of just four plants, three of which had been selected in the nursery at Warminster between 1900 and 1904.

Malting is still successfully carried out at Pound Street and details can be found at www.warminster-malt.co.uk

Victoria History of Wiltshire, Volume 8. O.U.P. 1965

Warminster in the Twentieth Century, by Celia Lane and Pauline White. Warminster History Society, 1999, 0 9509920 5 4

The Maltings, Pound Street, Warminster
The Maltings, Pound Street, Warminster

Image Date: 2002
Image Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham



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