Monday, 27 September 2010

G. & W. E. Downing, Maltsters, Gloucester (1)

Maltsters George and William E. Downing from Smethwick in the West Midlands opened their first malthouse in Gloucester in 1876. As their business expanded, they built a second malthouse to the north of the original building in 1895. Designed by Walter B. Wood and built by the Gurney Brothers, it consisted of three ranges. The first two included a basement with a steeping tank in which barley was soaked usually for a couple of days and a working floor where the barley was allowed to germinate and sprout, a malt room where malt was stored and bagged, two more working floors, and an attic where barley was stored. The third range, to the north included a large malt kiln and a smaller barley kiln, where germination was inhibited. Part of this building was also used to clean and repair returned malt sacks. The absence of windows on the upper floors of the third range gave Downing ample space to advertise their business.

G. & W. E. Downing
Head Office Spon Lane Smethwick
Branch Malt... [Malthouses]
Smethwick *
Birmingham *
West Bromwich *
Wednesbury *
Walsall *
Bristol *
Tewkesbury *
Gloucester *
Oswestry *
Oxford *
This sign was painted twice. Originally, the names of towns and cities were written in larger letters (they are indicated by a '*'). However as G. & W. E. Downing expanded, it became necessary to list more locations, hence the smaller font. The order was also altered.

Update: the fourth line should read "Branch Maltings" (and not "Malthouses"). Thank you very much to Aztec for pointing that out. See comments below.

View of the sign was partly obscured when two more malthouses were built in 1901 between Merchant Street and Bakers Quay on the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal. On the picture below, it is seen from the tow path that runs on the other side of the canal.

Location: Merchant Road, Gloucester, Gloucestershire / Pictures taken on: 24/07/2010


Aztec said...

Excellent blog. Well done! Such a huge variety of signs in so many different places. Great work deciphering and researching them.

The "Branch Malt... [Malthouses]" line here should read, I think, 'Branch Maltings', if that's any help.

I found various other ghost signs in Gloucester which may be of interest:

Sebastien Ardouin said...

Thanks very much for you comments Aztec. You're absolutely right. It is definitely "Maltings" and not "Malthouses". I clearly missed that one.
I was in Gloucester only for a day and spent most of the time in the cathedral, so I didn't see as many ghost signs as you did but I am sure you'll recognize some of the pictures I'll post in the weeks and months to come.