School Lane (Back Lane)
Listen to Jean Archer talking in 1991 about The Maltings
Built in 1829 by the Weller family to convert barley to malt. The structures on top of the building were the ventilators for the kilns. They built one-roomed cottages for the widows of the Wellers’ staff, just on the left inside the first entrance to the Maltings. The Wellers gave an annual Sprat Supper inviting all the townspeople to the Maltings where they fried sprats on shining steel malt shovels.
In 1837 The Times reported a major fire: “The malthouse was completely gutted. In its storerooms were about 1,500 quarters of malt, a very great proportion of which has been rendered useless. The premises and stock were insured at £1,500 and the loss to Messrs Weller, by close calculation, will amount to at least £5,000.”
Below is an article fom a local newspaper about the use of Barn Meadow and the Maltings in 1897 for Queen Victoria’s Jubilee.
Listen to Reg Mason talking about the lake in Pondwicks in 1909
After the brewery closed a Mr Matthews bought the Maltings to turn it into a leisure club with a swimming pool and a maple floor was installed to make the largest space into a dance floor. However, Mr Matthews died in a railway accident before the works were completed. It was then bought by Mr McLatchie for a fabric printing business, Amersham Prints. In the war it was used for making nearly 7,000 convoy or kite balloons (see photos below), similar to barrage balloons but smaller, as well as fins for larger barrage ballons, inflatable dinghies for aircraft and lifebelts. Parts are now leased to various craftsmen – an art gallery, a cabinet maker, a curtain maker etc. The history of Amersham Prints is covered in the 1947 article below.
Listen to two women who worked in The Maltings during World War II
St. Marys’ School
The area between the school and the Misbourne is called Barn Meadow. It used to belong to the Weller’s Brewery but was bought by the local Council in about 1931.
These buildings have been through many changes of use in the last 100 years as can be seen in the photos below.
Listen to Reg Mason’s memories of the school and Back Lane
R1_0034 Cricket on Barn Meadow
also David Revel talking about St. Mary’s School and the effect of the evacuees in WWII R1_0006
and Gerald Lee talking in 2004 to Diana Goodbody about the Italian POWs at Mantles Green Farm at the end of School Lane R1_0011
Click on any of the photographs below to enlarge it and to see the description. Then click on forward or back arrows at the foot of each photograph. To close the pictures, just click on one.