The Maltings at Southminster

Ale was considered a very important part of life in the country until Temperance movement in the later part of Queen Victorias Reign.

Every village has several public houses and ale houses and most men brewed their own ale at home.

To cope with the large volume of brewing  small malt houses were common but there was was a demand for large Maltings.

Eastern Essex produced large amounts of Barley and has an existing network of Quays allowing Thames barges of taking the Malt to the main markets in London.

This made it a natural siting of a Malting and about 1845 a Malting plant was built at Hall Lane, Southminster.


Barley was stored in hoppers awaiting process

The barley was sifted remove unwanted husks or other items

The Barley was placed in a large vessel and soaked with water to allow the grain to swell

The grain was monitored to ensure that it is moist without being waterlogged

The grain was then drained and allowed to rest before being transferred to the malting floor

The barley was left untouched to start germination for about a week

The barley was left until it started to sprout

The Maltster then judged when to transfer the barley into the Kiln

This judgment was critical requiring great skill from the Maltster

The grain was then dried and cured to produce malt

The length of time and the heat applied to the kiln determined the type of malt


Southminster Maltings produced large amounts of malt from about 1845 until it was demolished 1972 to make way for an industrial estate

The Malthouse at Burnham appears to have closed at about the same time as by 1871 the census records the address as a disused Maltings Yard.

Likewise the Southminster malt house that had been run by the Stebbings family.

Water was important for the process and so several wells were sunk to tap into underground water.

As a benefit to the community a public pump was installed in hall Road near to the Maltings to help deal with local water shortages during dry times

The Maltings made use of the new technique for cast iron in its construction using iron columns on the ground and first floor construction although the builders reverted to wooden columns for the second floor

The large volume of malt is indicated by the provision of five kilns one of which was conical and the remainder followed the latest industrial model of being pyramid shaped.

The malt was loaded onto large carts drawn by horses and taken to Maldon, Chelmsford and to the local quays

Grays brwers ad 1911


Maltings reflected two unusual patterns of employment for their era.

Firstly Maltsers often moved large distances between maltings reflecting the need to ensure skilled men in the key position at each malting.

Secondly there were not labour intensive as was most occupations, requiring only a few men to work a large building and high volume of malt.

In 1871 there were 7 men employed at the Maltings who lived in cottages on the site.

The Census lists them as

Christian  Name


Date of Birth +/- 1 yr

Place of Birth




Walsham, Suffolk








Kenninghall, Norfolk




Thetford, Norfolk




Althorne , Essex




Boxford ,Suffolk

Samuel Lambard lived with his wife Lucy aged 60

William Lambert and George Beale were listed as lodgers with Emma Jordan 39 years who is described as widow of Maltster

James Kerridge appears to have been the expert brought in to run the new Maltings

Letheringsett Maltings Near Coltishall where James Kerridge learnt his trade

photo courtsesy of  Norfolk Mills - a splended site packed with information on water and windmills in Norfolk and in general terms

Census returns for James Kerridge demonstrates life in the latter part of the 1800's

 In the 1851 Census he is listed as a Maltster at Larling, Norfolk

In the 1861 Census he is listed as a Maltster at Coltishall Suffolk

In the 1871 Census he is listed as a Maltster at Southminster Essex

In the 1881 Census he is listed as a Maltster at Southminster Essex

In the 1891 Census he is listed as Parish Clerk/Gardener at Southminster - He is still at Hall Road but his wife Ann is not listed although his 18 year old Grand daughter is listed . She is probably his housekeeper following the death of his wife Ann

In the 1901 Census he is listed as Church Clerk/ Gardener. His Grand daughter is no longer listed but he has a new wife called Susannah aged 65