The Heritage of The Maltings

A key element in redeveloping The Maltings focuses on it rich heritage, and we aim to give people a better understanding not only of the building and its history, but also of the lives of the people who worked there.

The Eldridge Pope Brewery opened in 1881. The Brewery not only included some of the most important buildings in the town in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it was for over 100 years also at the heart of its economy and life.



The Brewery was an impressive development, built mostly of Broadmayne Stock, with Swanage red and Gault brick details. It was designed by George R. Crickmay, who mentored Thomas Hardy during the author’s early career as an architect. The Maltings building preserves the original features associated with the process of malting: kilns, drying floors with a typical arrangement of windows for ventilation, and two imposing conical towers. We are lucky enough to have some of the original drawings of this amazing building.


Despite developing major brands, such as Thomas Hardy’s Ale, the brewery closed in 2003, with significant impact on manufacturing employment and the life of the region. Many local people were employed in the brewery and they still remember the site in action – the smells and sounds of industry on their doorstep, and through our heritage work we aim to capture and preserve those valuable memories of a lost world of manufacturing work in the county town.

The Maltings building has since its closure been used for a variety of other activities, from a social club for the Brewery, to a home for community play rehearsals, gym training and ballet classes.

The Maltings will also provide an accessible route into the heritage of the region for people of all backgrounds, through the stories it will tell of the lives of local people and the Brewery in the 19th/20th centuries. It will celebrate the heritage and cultural memory of people linked to the Brewery site – from the Pope family, to the workers themselves, through a range of engagement activities and partnerships with local and regional community organisations.

Plans include:


  • A regional community heritage engagement project, using the Maltings to focus on the changing world of work in Dorset. The Maltings is emblematic of the age when a large manufacturing employer was based in the heart of a town.
  • Capturing and preserving the heritage of the Brewery through a series of multi-disciplinary and intergenerational heritage programmes working with schools and groups such as U3A
  • The creation of a network of heritage volunteers, sharing and capturing stories
  • A community story wall sharing memories and stories of the Brewery and region
  • Architectural tours focusing on industrial architecture and heritage, enhancing the site-specific street naming, public art and repurposing ofindustrial heritage items by the developer of the site.
  • Restaging the 1985 piece, Entertaining Strangers, which tells the history of the town in the nineteenth century, in partnership with the Dorchester Community Plays Association, who have delivered more community plays than in any other town through their 35-year history
  • Working in partnership with Dorset heritage organisations to deliver regional community heritage programmes. Potential partners include:
    • Dorset County Museum
    • Shire Hall Historic Courthouse Museum
    • Dorset History Centre
    • The Dorchester Community Plays Association