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Report - - Langley Maltings, Oldury, August 2009 | Industrial Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Langley Maltings, Oldury, August 2009


A man called Martyn

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
From a site visit a short time before fire gutted the site.It was visited after Unitec Ceramics in Stafford failed to deliver the goods.
A little bit of history
The maltings were built in 1898 for Showell’s Crosswell Brewery, the site of which is nearby. They replaced/rebuilt the maltings destroyed in a fire the previous year, 1897, when a naphtha lamp had accidentally been overturned. (BJ 1897 December, p 898.) A detailed description of the new maltings designed by Messrs Arthur Kinder & Son appeared in The Brewers’ Journal for January 1898, page 40. Some of the details are worth noting including that Mr T. Swift, manager of the malting department assisted in the arrangements within the maltings. The screening, cleaning and carrying equipment was provided by Messrs Boby (of Bury St Edmunds). The power was provided by electricity. Like many maltings they suffered a fire in 1922 when a kiln (No 6) was destroyed. It was eventually rebuilt, over fifty years later in 1977 near the canal. The maltings were bought by Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries in 1944 from Showells for £12,000.

The maltings were built to take advantage of the canal, and the railway was nearby. Originally the canal was use for the delivery of barley but eventually only rail was used. There was a siding from the main line. However, since World War II all the barley has been brought in by road, and the malt is taken out by road, too.

Traditionally malting is a hard labour but skilled job and has always been undertaken by men but during the World War II it is known that women worked the maltings. In 2005 they are worked by 11 maltsters and 2 foremen 7 days a week and every day of the year.

The buildings and the process
The maltings which consist of two blocks which are identical, those described in the BJ of 1898, and a modern 20th century barley storage unit, and silos. The original maltings are constructed of brick with slate roofs and until closure where the largest floor malting still working in England. The buildings are relatively plain but their sweeping roofs and kilns make them an interesting and exciting feature in this industrial landscape.

First we were shown around the relatively modern barley intake plant, etc. The operation of the storage plant is shown on a flow board and the workings of the unit were explained to us. The barley storage is in flat bins and the grain is moved by auger. It is a tall structure of iron with bins inside, and here the barley is dried, cleaned and stored until required. (The dried barley is also sent to the Lichfield maltings.) Full details of the barley drying process and storage were given to us, as well as the problems which arise out of using storage facilities built in the 1970s when technology was not so advanced, for example although the silos are self emptying there is no aeration. There was Robinsons of Rochdale half corn machine and various equipment for cleaning in this building.

We also had the opportunity to go up onto the roof walkways of the main building and the silos to the side, and look down on the whole site and admire the view of the kilns and the sweeping roofs.

The barleys currently malted are Maris Otter, proctor, and pioneer. The barley supplied by each merchant is kept separate so that if there are any problems the source can be identified. The barley is stored at a moisture content of 12%. If the temperature rises too high, then the stored barley is rotated so that it is cooled down. The malting process is as follows: two days steeping the barley, the barley is then six days on the floor, growing and being turned to prevent matting of the growing rootlets, and finally three days on the kiln. With analysis, the whole process takes fourteen days.

The malting process took place in the original 1898 buildings which do have a refrigeration plant which is essential in summers these days, but it is 40 years old. So, were show the cast iron double hopper bottomed steeps with the last steepings in them. The water for steeping the barley comes from a bore hole and is at constant temperature of 11°C. The steeps are divided from the germination floors by a partition. The floors are of cement screed and have the usual regularly spaced rows of cast iron columns, and the air-condition units are along the outside walls.

The kilns now have Suxé anthracite furnaces to provide the hot air for kilning the malt. Originally there were seven H. J. H. King regulators, according to the King catalogue for 1906. The illustration shows the original kiln destroyed by the 1922 fire. The drying floors above have kiln turners but are still loaded by Boby barrow - placed underneath the green malt discharge chute outside each kiln and then distributed evenly over the drying floor which are now of wedge wire. The outside of the doors onto the kiln drying floors are of wood.

Around the maltings were a variety of implements, including malt ploughs, known here as “shufflersâ€￾, a Robinson turner, a machine rather like a lawn mower held vertically and used for turning the growing grain, power shovels for moving the green malt off the growing floor to the elevators for delivery to the kiln, Boby barrows for distributing the green malt evenly over the kiln drying floor.
ENGLISH HERITAGE Listing Text

Maltings. 1870. Brick with slate roofs. Comprises two parallel three-
storey ranges of malting floors with six kilns at east end, facing Western
Road. West facade faces Titford Canal. The gables of both ranges are of
five bays separated by shallow buttresses with offsets. The windows have
segmental heads. Between the two ranges is a four-storey two-bay kiln, with
a blocked canal arm to each side of it. The gable now projects above the
roof of the southern range, which was replaced by a roof of several shallower
pitches following a fire in the 1920s. At the east end the three northern
kilns have pyramid roofs of steep pitch. The southern kilns have roofs of
shallower pitch. All retain their louvres except for the northern kiln of
the southern range, which is disused. Interior: the malting floors are now
concreted and are supported on three rows of iron columns: Formerly Showell's
Maltings, the buildings are a prominent canalside landmark.
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