Snape Maltings sits in a beautiful location on the banks of the River Alde. It’s most famous as a concert hall, and home of the Aldeburgh Festival, founded by Benjamin Britten. These days there’s a lot more there, and it’s still growing. There is a variety of shops and galleries, a cafe and restaurant, a pub and holiday accommodation, with the first residential housing to be completed soon. It would make a stunning place to live.
We visited Snape for the Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival. For this blog though, we’re going to look at the history of Snape and its role in the barley and malt industry.
Having previously been a pawnbroker in London, the entrepreneur Newson Garrett built the maltings in the mid-19th century and it soon became one of the largest barley maltings in East Anglia.
Snape’s position is key to what attracted Garrett to the site. It is surrounded by agricultural land and sits on the banks of the River Alde. Initially the river allowed barley to easily be transported out of East Anglia, to the rest of the UK (particularly London) and Europe, where it was used by brewers to produce malt to make beer. Later on, the process of turning the barley to malt was carried out at the maltings, and the malt became the key cargo down the river.
Eventually the scale of the site became its downfall, and due to inefficiency, it ceased as a working maltings in 1965. Fortunately the site was only left vacant for a few years before the slow transformation to the famous site it is today was begun.
This is an interesting video on the process of turning barley into malt in a modern maltings. The machinery may have changed, but the principles and process are the same as those that would have been followed at Snape.