Market Lavington Museum

Market Lavington’s malt industry

The chalk uplands of Salisbury Plain were well suited to growing barley. Market Lavington, situated just below the northern edge of the Plain, was an ideal location for malting the barley for use in the brewing industry.

The paragraph in the 1953 Women’s Institute history file states that there were said to be as many as 27 malthouses in the village at one time. None remain today, but the file gives us the location of some of them. There were two on the site that later became Wordleys yard (then Wiltshire Agricultural Engineering) to the right of the Market Place. Others were said to be in Parsonage Lane, at Oatley’s Yard, at Davis’s coal yard (50 High Street), behind the Workman’s Hall and 38 High Street and on White Street at Beech House office and Gye’s Yard.

The Victoria History of Wiltshire tells us that the last maltings in Market Lavington closed in about 1883.

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This malthouse, behind the Workman’s Hall, remained in use as a dance hall, but was demolished in the 1970s.

These windowless two storey buildings housed large tanks where the barley grain was steeped in water for a couple of days, then left to germinate. It was then spread out across the floor and left for about a fortnight, before being put in a kiln to dry it out and stop the growing process.

The WI write up informs us that much of the malt was taken to the London breweries using a waggon service run by the Smith family from the White House on White Street.

For more about our local maltings see Malthouses and An old Malthouse.