Victorian malthouse, St Mary Street, Monmouth
A Victorian entrepreneur created a large malthouse here by cleverly combining two older buildings. To the left was the Crown Inn, probably built in the 18th century (there was also a Crown and Thistle Inn nearby). You can see an opening to the former beer cellar as you descend the ramp in the central passage.
It's thought that the building on the right was a theatre. The passage led to a courtyard, used by the public to reach housing beyond.
The buildings were acquired by George Porter Tippins, who had started his career by training as a maltster – a person who makes malt from barley (usually for brewing). He eventually owned numerous pubs, a brewery and the malthouse he created here in the late 1860s.
George extended the first floor of the inn across both the passage and what’s thought to have been the theatre auditorium. His new frontage gave the building a uniform look, but the older buildings survive behind it.
Carts delivering barley parked in the passage. The sacks were hoisted through a trapdoor using a winch which still exists (see upper photo). The barley was cleaned before being tipped into hoppers which led to a water tank, where the barley was soaked to start germination. You can see the tank on your left in the shop beyond the passage.
Next the grain was spread across the wide floor for drying and frequently raked to stop seedlings sticking to each other. Finally it was heated in the kilns at the far end of the floor (see middle photo).
On the cast-iron columns supporting the first floor are the words: T Bright, Carmarthen. Thomas Bright owned the Old Foundry in Carmarthen which produced iron and brass objects and agricultural machinery.
George appointed William Wigmore to manage the malthouse. William lived with his family in the part of the building now occupied by the café. The bakery founded by the family still trades on the opposite side of St Mary’s Street.
The Tippins family sold the malthouse in 1949 to John Lewis, who ran a furniture removals and storage business from here. He enlarged the trapdoor above the passage for upright pianos going up into storage! You can still see the piano-sized gap between the rafters. The bottom photo shows one of his Wye Transport removal lorries. The business left the building in 1997.
With thanks to Steven Gill
Postcode: NP25 3DB< View Location Map