New book toasts Swaffham’s brewing heritage

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The story of hundreds of years of brewing in Swaffham has been chronicled in a new book and exhibition launched by town historians.

Officials from the town’s History Group have published the booklet on the Swaffham Brewery, which is the final part of a two-year project by group members to examine the history of many former watering holes.

And the subject is also the centrepiece of a major exhibition at the Swaffham Museum, which opened at the weekend.

The book, which has been compiled by group member John Webb, follows the publication of 14 previous volumes on old town pubs.

It records the history of the brewery, which was built in the early 19th century and brewed beer until the 1920s, before switching its focus to non-alcoholic drinks.

But, even after brewing work ended, part of the site, now the Maltings flats for elderly people, which were opened by the Princess Royal in 2001, continued to be used for malting barley until the 1970s.

Group chairman Marion Hancock said many of the buildings from the brewery, which is likely to have employed hundreds of people at its peak, still stand today.

She added: “We have a wonderful memory of a young child who was looked after by one of the workers’ wives. Her husband used to take him into the Maltings and up the hoist.

“It’s a very well researched book. I’m very pleased.”

As well as telling the story of the brewery, the book contains insights into the wider history of brewing in Swaffham, which is known to date back more than 500 years, as well as the roles of individual staff.

There is also a section on the history of the old Three Tuns pub, which was run by the brewery.

And the book, along with the group’s works on individual pubs, also forms part of a new exhibition for visitors to the Swaffham Museum.

The London Street venue opened for its 2015 season on Saturday and the exhibition will continue until May.

Copies of the book, which is priced £4.50, are available from the museum and the Ceres bookshop.