The Southern Maltings (Ware Arts Centre Limited) is the southernmost of three maltings built by a local brewer, Mr Dickenson, in the 1840’s for the roasting of dark malt which was used to brew the dark ale ‘Porter’, so called because it was drunk in large quantities by the London porters.
The New Maltings, as they were known, were built on part of the site of demolished slum dwellings with a space in front for vehicles and remained in use until the 1960’s. Soon after it became the a store house for the Home Pride Bakery until the 1970’s. After a fire serious fire and years of decay East Herts Council in the early 1980’s made repairs and constructed 2 new cowls.
By the year 2000 it was decided that a complete refurbishment was needed to bring the South Malting building up to a modern standard, particularly with regard to the need to make it accessible to those with the rather steep staircases. This work was started in December 2003 and completed in June 2004 with generous support from local companies and grants from many sources including East Hert District Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
We can now display that part of a malting where the roasting took place and we still have the original patented woven wire roasting floor designed and constructed locally by the Falcon Iron Works owned by the Chas Wells family.
There is also the remains of one of the furnaces, complete with sooted walls. What is now the Main Hall was used for bagging and storing the grain and if you look closely at the floorboards you will see some of those grains in the cracks between the floorboards.
Since the initial refurbishment we have had our regular beer festival, held around Easter every year, regular art exhibitions by local schools and groups, an annual photographic exhibition in late November every year and many others.
Watch out for our regular monthly cinema presentations which specialises in the best of independant cinema.
In 2016, the Ware Arts Centre took control of the whole of the building and we now have ambitious expansion plan to provide studio space, a cafe and gallery, as well as a large performance space for music and theatre.
In 2018, the Ware Arts Centre became known as the Southern Maltings, but continues to be managed by trustees from the the Ware Arts Centre Limited.