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Landmark features restored to the iconic Maltings building

PUBLISHED: 18:00 31 May 2017

The famous cowls were back on the Wells Maltings building for the first time since 1939. Picture: Sarah Toon

The famous cowls were back on the Wells Maltings building for the first time since 1939. Picture: Sarah Toon

Sarah Toon Photography

Large rooftop cowls which helped make one of Wells’ most historic buildings such a recognisable landmark in the past have now been restored after 78 years.

The cowls are unloaded before being lifted by cranes onto the roof of the Maltings. Picture: Sarah Toon The cowls are unloaded before being lifted by cranes onto the roof of the Maltings. Picture: Sarah Toon

The last time a cowl was seen on top the Wells Maltings was in 1939 when there was only one remaining and it is thought that it was later removed during the Second World War.

Now the team behind the Maltings restoration has returned the cowls to the rooftop, with each one having been faithfully reproduced from old photographs.

It marks the biggest change in the Wells skyline since the restoration project began and the once recognisable landmark can be seen again across the town.

The Wells Maltings is undergoing a multi-million pound restoration to become a major attraction for tourists and residents.

The Maltings roof has been stripped off and the timbers underneath and roof galley repaired. Picture: Sarah Toon The Maltings roof has been stripped off and the timbers underneath and roof galley repaired. Picture: Sarah Toon

A museum, a major expansion of The Granary Theatre, a cafe, tourist information desk and viewing gallery overlooking the sea and amongst the plans.

Wells Maltings project development manager Becky Jefcoate said: “After seven years of planning, fundraising, consultation and hard work by many people and our own share of blood, sweat and tears this amazing new facility for Wells is actually happening.

“We’ve come a long way and are grateful to everyone who has supported us and been a part of the journey so far. The view of the restored cowls on the roof of the Maltings from out at sea or walking along the beach road is magnificent.”

The cowls were originally used to help regulate the flow of air from drying furnaces. The hot air from the furnace would dry germinated cereal grains brought to the Maltings. This would produce malted grains that would then be used for the production of things like beer.

Internal walls have been removed and on the west side of the building and the ceiling between 1st and 2nd floor taken down to make space for the new double height auditorium. Picture: Sarah Toon Internal walls have been removed and on the west side of the building and the ceiling between 1st and 2nd floor taken down to make space for the new double height auditorium. Picture: Sarah Toon

The installation of the cowls marks another significant step forward for the restoration project that is scheduled to be completed by spring 2018.

Other recent milestones have included work beginning on a new auditorium, for live shows and film screenings, and groundwork advancements for an extension to the main building.

In April the project secured £311,124 from the government’s Coastal Communities Fund, which Ms Jefcoate said would secure the building’s future for the next century.

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