Malting - Lincoln's forgotten industry

There are 31 maltkilns listed in the Valuation. The word seems to be used for what we would now term a maltings, including the cisterns and the growing floors. A typical maltings at this date might consume 1000 quarters of barley per year - about 200 tons. Thus Lincoln was converting into malt about 6000 tons of barley per year.

Lincoln's population at this date was about 12,000. If we credit each of them (including babes-in-arms) with a consumption of 3 pints per day, then by modern standards this would require about 1000 tons/yr. Beer consumption at this date was high in comparison to today, but its strength was lower, and lower-strength beers require less malt per gallon. Thus 1000 tons per year ought to have sufficed for Lincoln's own needs.

The explanation of the other 5000 tons is that Lincoln was shipping large quantities of malt to the breweries of the West Riding of Yorkshire, where the population and its thirst had outgrown the capacity of the local farmers.

Of these 31 maltkilns, 26 enjoyed a waterside location, which would facilitate the delivery of grain and of coke and the shipping of the product. The waterside kilns were most numerous in St Swithin's parish, with a particularly dense cluster on the north bank below Broadgate. This cluster included three of the six instances where a maltkiln was combined with a brewery; that area was very much the centre of Lincoln's own brewing industry.

Little use was made of the upper Witham south of St Mark's parish. Yet this area is where Lincoln's largest maltings was to be found, built by John Coupland in 1820. The reason for the location was that Coupland had inherited land there and had determined to use it, even though it required digging his own canal to provide access from the river. Maps like the attached can show how most entrepreneurs followed the logic of economics in determining where to build, but there will always be some men who follow their own peculiar logic.