Friday, July 03, 2009

Bass Maltings, Sleaford

click photo to enlarge
In 1892 a borehole was drilled on the edge of the Lincolnshire town of Sleaford. It was 180 feet deep, and proved that a good supply of water was available to allow the establishment of a brewery maltings. Sleaford was chosen because it was in the area where much of th English malting barley grew, the required labour was available, the railway was nearby, and it was cheaper to build a new site than transport the barley to the Bass company's existing facilities. In 1901 a site of over 13 acres was acquired and the architect, H.A. Couchman was appointed to design the most up-to-date of maltings. By 1907 the water tower, engine house and boiler house had been built in the centre of the site, as well as 8 large malthouses on a frontage 1,000 feet long, and sundry railway sidings, blocks of offices and staff facilities. The scale of the undertaking must have been impressive at the time, and is impressive still.

Malting was carried out at Sleaford until 1959 when new processes made the site redundant. Over the subsequent decades some small workshops and businesses made use of parts of the site, but maintenance of the buildings was not carried out as required. In 1973 the complex's architectural and social importance was recognised through Listed Building status (Grade 2*). However, three fires and the ravages of weather and time took their toll on the maltings, and this marvellous piece of our industrial heritage looked as though it might be demolished. Fortunately, a developer now has plans to incorporate sympathetic renovation with the conversion of the site to 204 residential dwellings, healthcare and community facilities, retail, restaurant and office space, with associated open space and car parking. Let's hope that the economic downturn doesn't get in the way of this bold vision.

My photograph shows six of the eight malthouses (two are off to the left). Also visible are the chimney of the main power plant, the water tower, and, in the foreground with pairs of joined pitched roofs, offices. An indication of the size of the maltings can be gained from the windows and from the new, modern houses just visible on the left. I was blessed with a good sky for my photograph which compensated for the light falling on the scene from almost behind me.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 22mm (44mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f8
Shutter Speed: 1/640 seconds
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -1.0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On