Snape Maltings is a huge complex of granaries and malthouses that nestle beside the River Alde. Formerly one of the largest working maltings in East Anglia, barley was once processed here for the brewing industry. The owners, the Gooderham family, bought the site in the 1960´s and set about its gradual restoration and rejuvenation. In 1967 Snape Maltings Concert Hall was opened as a main venue for the Aldeburgh festival, brainchild of composer Benjamin Britten and tenor Peter Pears.
Snape Maltings were built largely by Newson Garrett in 1846. It had its own branch railway line that reached here from Saxmundham entering the maltings through the central arch beneath clock tower and cupola. Newson was the younger brother of Richard Garrett, who inherited the Garrett Works at Leiston (Now Longshop Museum). One of his daughters achieved fame as the remarkable Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, a suffragette and the first woman to qualify as a Doctor in Great Britain.
Good transport links and a tidal river created ideal conditions for the production of malt. Barley the principal product of the East Anglian countryside was processed at Snape into malt, the main ingredient of beer. Barley was soaked in steeps to germinate before roasting at high temperature to stop the growth process but not before the starch in the grain had turned to sugar. The so-called steep or waste water was removed by discharging into the tidal stream. Most maltings in East Anglia, and there were many, were situated on the limit of river and coastal navigation. Snape on the River Alde was served by road, railway and Spritsail barges. Even today, ships with a capacity as great as 100 tons arrive on the tides and Spritsail barges can be seen beside the Quay.
The maltings are currently being transformed. Although only partly accessible for many years, the current programme includes renovation of the main malting buildings. This will incorporate a new Heritage Centre to explain the all-important history of Snape and its maltings industry.
Snape Maltings is well-known as an internationally famous concert venue but there is much more to see and to do. Apart from the Concert hall, there is a public house, café and high-class retail outlets. It can be very popular in summer, when it is used for major events. But at any time throughout the year, you can recapture the extraordinary atmosphere of East Anglia at the turn of the nineteenth century.