BRITAIN’S oldest working maltings in Warminster has a list of more than 300 UK customers and a growing worldwide export trade market.

Warminster Maltings has been making malt for the brewing industry for the past 164 years from its Grade 2 listed Pound Street premises.

Managing director and head maltster Chris Garratt says they have a growing list of customers in the UK and overseas, particularly in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand and Asia.

He’s just returned from the Craft Brewers Conference in Denver, Colorado, where he met with agents and existing and prospective customers.

“I am pleased and proud that our export trade is increasing. North America is our biggest export market and around 20 per cent of our sales go overseas.”

Founded in 1855 by William Morgan, an established maltster and brewer, Warminster Maltings was remodelled in 1879 by his son, William Frank Morgan.

When the Malt Tax was repealed just one year later in 1880 the maltings kept its original and unique design features and traditional methods of production.

In the 20th century, Edwin Sloper Beaven, a member of the Morgan family, put himself and the maltings firmly on the world’s map.

A self-taught plant breeder, Dr Beaven bred the first genetically true variety of barley in the world called Plumage Archer. Selected for its outstanding malting and brewing qualities, it went on to provide most of the UK’s malt requirements for the next 40 years.

By 1950, Guinness had taken over the maltings, and continued to operate it until 1994. When Guinness moved out, Mr Garratt began a new venture supplying local breweries.

But his initiative required more funding and in 2001 Robin Appel, the Hampshire-based barley merchant, acquired the business, which employs 17 people.

Mr Garratt said: “Since 1971, the demand for ‘real ale’ has brought about a renaissance in brewing and a demand for traditional malted barley followed.”

“Warminster Maltings production capability is perfectly matched to this market, and so the business has continued to flourish ever since.

“Over the last 18 years, we have undertaken extensive restoration of the Listed Grade 2 complex as well as renewing or upgrading all the engineering.”

Warminster Maltings now supplies the UK’s leading breweries and whisky distilleries nationwide.