The Magazine of Lenton Local History Society

Lenton Times Issue 3 - November 1989

The Hillside Malting - The 'Hole' Story

Regular readers will realise straight away that this photograph of the canal at Hillside was also included in issue No.2. Then we had little to say about the shot other than that the large building on Hillside came down to make way for the row of terrace houses where Jack Hill spent his childhood. Now as a result of Frank Barnes' researches there is much more we can tell you regarding that 'large building'.

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The canal at Hillside. Reproduced courtesy of Nottinghamshire County
Library Service.

The opening of the Nottingham canal in 1796 soon led to a number of industrial developments alongside it in the lower Leen valley, and one of these was the establishment of a malting at Hillside, or Canal-side as it was often called. For much of the nineteenth century it was owned by Samuel Hole of Caunton, whose family firm is better known for its brewing and malting interests at Newark. Whether the Hillside malting was actually built by them is not clear.

A search through the directories and other material yields certain information but this is not really sufficient to accurately pinpoint the first owner. When Samuel Hole first appears on the Nottingham scene it is in partnership with a local man, John Harrison, and it's possible that Harrison may have started the Hillside business. Unfortunately the early directories such as those published by the Review Office in 1815, by Sutton in 1818 and by Glover in 1825 don't include details of old Lenton and therefore any malting there won't figure in their lists of local maltsters. Glover's Directory of 1825 does name John Harrison of New Sneinton' as a maltster but it is only in Pigott's Directory of 1828-29 that the maltster list includes 'Samuel Hole of Lenton'. In 1832 when the Election Poll Book includes Samuel Hole of Caunton as a freehold property owner in Lenton, White's Directory names two maltsters in Lenton - Hall and Harrison (probably a printer's error for Hole and Harrison) and Joseph Pidcock of Middleton Place. Two years later the directories reveal that Hole also owns a further malting at Leenside in partnership with Harrison which just makes unravelling the details that little bit more difficult.

The malting at Hillside was a large structure parallel to the canal and shown by published large-scale maps to have been about 140 yards long. This estimate is confirmed by plans for its conversion into houses in 1902, discussed later, which show it to have been about 30 feet deep, giving a total ground area of about 12,600 sq. Feet, or over 10,000 sq. feet for the 'malt rooms' if you exclude the several cottages which were incorporated into the building. These are large premises, so it is surprising that J.T. Godfrey, in his 1884 book on the history of Lenton, failed to mention its existence, both in his itinerary for a walk round the parish and in his chapter on 'Manufactures I can only conjecture that there was a personal reason similar to that which led to his omission of any mention of Benjamin Walker's lace factory which was largely responsible for the growth of Spring Close and Commercial Street, and was one of the largest employers of Lenton people. The malting was definitely there by 1823 as it is shown on the map of Gregory Gregory's estate in Lenton and Radford surveyed for him by HM Wood in 1818 to 1823 and the building is shown almost exactly as it appears on large scale Ordnance Survey maps later in the century.

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The 1901 OS Map showing the malting. Reproduced courtesy of
Nottinghamshire County Library Service.

'Hole and Harrison' was mentioned as maltsters at Hillside by Dearden's Directory of Nottingham and Adjacent Villages in 1834. But in Pigott's Directory of 1842 the maltsters in Lenton were Samuel Hole and John Harrison, listed separately, along with William Brown (Old Lenton) and Burton and Pidcock (New Lenton). Glover in 1844 and Lascelles and Hager in 1848mentioned only Samuel Hole of Canalside. His sole inclusion at Hillside, 'sometimes called Canalside' continued in the Directories for 1853 (White) and 1865 (Drake and White). Morris's Directory of 1869, however, refers to James Hole, maltster, Hillside and to William Daybell his foreman. Indeed Wright's 1866 Directory names James Hole at Hillside, but still has Samuel Hole at Leenside. James Hole, Samuel Hole's son, remained the proprietor of the Hillside malting, with William Daybell, first as foreman and later as manager, 'until the 1880s, and during the 1870s appears also to have owned the Leenside malting, with W. Beecroft as manager.

The main business of the firm of S & J Hole was at Northgate, Newark, and with the progressive decline in importance of canal transport as the century progressed, the Hillside malting must have become increasingly marginal in location and economically anomalous for a brewing enterprise based at Newark. In 1884 or 1885 the Hillside malting was sold to J. Pidcock and Co., with W. Pidcock the proprietor and Nathaniel Samuel Rawlings as foreman in 1887. The firm of J. Pidcock and Co., with an office in Dean Street, Nottingham, had malt rooms in Barker Gate and several other locations in Nottingham and Radford. By 1895, however, the Hillside malting had been sold on again, this time to the brewers and maltsters, William Henry Hutchinson and Son, of the Prince of Wales Brewery, Percy Street, Basford. The malting wasn't to last much longer and operations probably ceased at Hillside in 1901 or 1902. The disadvantages of the site in the railway age, for an enterprise involved in the collection, processing and subsequent distribution of bulky materials had finally told and the brewery sold off the Hillside property for redevelopment.

The plans which the builder, a W. Savage submitted to the City Council in 1902 show that the maltrooms were demolished to make way for 26 houses while the three maltsters' cottages were retained and incorporated into the terrace of housing. These properties continued to stand on Hillside until the mid-1970s when they in their turn were demolished and the site incorporated into that of the Queen's Medical Centre.


At the malting a cereal grain, usually barley, was converted into malt. The grain would be allowed to absorb water and so permit germination to begin. Various enzymes would be activated which converted the starch within the grain into malt sugar. The sprouting grain would then be placed in a kiln and heated up. This would cause the germination to cease and also dry the grain. The dried grain, or malt, was then ready to be used by the brewer in the manufacture of his beers.

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