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Toowoomba Maltings

  • 600852
  • 11 Mort Street, Toowoomba


Also known as
William Jones and Son (Maltsters) Ltd; State Wheat Board; Redwood's Maltings; Queensland Malting Company Ltd; Northern Australia Brewers Ltd; Carlton Maltings; Queensland Brewery Co; Paterson Redwood and Co; Darling Downs Malting Company Ltd; Black Gully Malthouse
State Heritage
Register status
Date entered
21 January 1998
Manufacturing and processing: Maltings
3.2 Developing secondary and tertiary industries: Developing manufacturing capacities
7.6 Maintaining order: Defending the country
Marks, Henry James (Harry)
Ivory, Montague
Construction periods
1899–1907, Toowoomba Maltings (1899 - 1907)
1899, Toowoomba Maltings - 1899 Kilns (1899 - 1899)
1899, Toowoomba Maltings - Malt Dressing Area (1899 - 1899)
1906–1907, Toowoomba Maltings - 1907 Kilns (1906 - 1907)
1906–1907, Toowoomba Maltings - 1907 Malthouse (1906 - 1907)
Historical period
1870s–1890s Late 19th century


11 Mort Street, Toowoomba
Toowoomba Regional Council
-27.54225897, 151.94322609


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Criterion AThe place is important in demonstrating the evolution or pattern of Queensland’s history.

Toowoomba Maltings is important in demonstrating the pattern of Queensland's history, in particular the development of the malting industry on the Darling Downs and the use of floor maltings.

Criterion BThe place demonstrates rare, uncommon or endangered aspects of Queensland’s cultural heritage.

The Toowoomba Maltings is a rare and intact example of a Queensland malt house designed for the floor malting process. Of the eight malt houses constructed in Queensland before the introduction of mechanised malting technology in the 1960s, only two survive, of which the Toowoomba Maltings is the most intact.

Criterion DThe place is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a particular class of cultural places.

As a collection of structures and equipment associated with the technology of floor maltings, the Toowoomba Maltings is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a malt house, a building type that has made a strong contribution to Queensland's barley growing, malting and brewing history. The building contains all of the elements of a malt house operation, including a large, flat germinating floor on the ground floor; kilns at one end; steeping tanks at the other end; storage bins and malt dressing rooms on the first floor; and early plant and equipment.

The building also demonstrates methods used to adapt malt house designs to the warm Queensland climate, with thick brick walls providing an even temperature to the germinating floor and the inclusion of louvred windows and custom-designed ventilators to control heat and airflow.

Criterion EThe place is important because of its aesthetic significance.

It is important in exhibiting a range of aesthetic characteristics valued by the community, in particular as an example of a functional industrial aesthetic.

Criterion FThe place is important in demonstrating a high degree of creative or technical achievement at a particular period.

The place is important in demonstrating a high degree of technical achievement in an early 20th century floor malting complex.

Criterion HThe place has a special association with the life or work of a particular person, group or organisation of importance in Queensland’s history.

It has a special association with the life and work of Toowoomba architects James Marks and Son, in particular Harry Marks, and is a good example of their industrial work.


The Toowoomba Maltings, located on Mort Road, Newtown, comprises bluestone rubble kilns erected in 1899 and a two storey brick malt house and kilns erected in 1907 for the purpose of turning barley into malt using the floor malting process. The 1899 phase of the building (of which the kilns are the only remnant) was constructed for Paterson Redwood and Co. and was designed by Brisbane architect William A. Caldwell. The 1907 malt house and kilns were designed by notable Toowoomba architect Harry Marks for English maltsters William Jones and Son Ltd, who had purchased the operations in 1904. The site was used for malting purposes since the first malt house was constructed there in 1897 (no longer extant) and the complex was expanded and modernised in the 1960s. The 1907 malt house and kilns remain substantially intact and are the best preserved example of a floor maltings building in Queensland.[1]

European settlement of the Toowoomba area, traditional country of the Giabal and Jarowair people, commenced in the 1840s when squatters first occupied pastoral runs on the Darling Downs. Located at the intersection of three large runs, the small settlement of Drayton (originally known as ‘The Springs') evolved from 1842 as a stopping place servicing pastoralists and travellers. From the late 1840s, the Drayton Swamp Agricultural Area (‘The Swamp'), six kilometres to the north-east, began to be considered a more desirable location for settlement. Better land for market gardening, improved water supply, the support of squatters and land speculators, and, from 1855, a better route to Brisbane (The Toll Road), were all advantages over Drayton.[2]

By the time Queensland separated from New South Wales in December 1859, Drayton Swamp had become the town of Toowoomba, with municipal status granted on 19 November 1860.[3] Toowoomba became the principal centre of the Darling Downs, fostering early agricultural development and claiming most of the service, administrative and educational functions of the region.[4] A railway line between Toowoomba and Ipswich was opened in 1867, followed by railway links to Dalby (1868), Warwick (1871) and Brisbane (1875), opening up the Downs to greater communication and transport of goods.[5] As the regional capital expanded, its industries diversified beyond primary production, with specialised plants and factories making a range of goods. These included tanneries, flour mills (such as the Defiance Flour Mill, 1898, QHR601306), a bacon factory, butter and cheese factories, the Toowoomba Foundry (1871, QHR 601300), breweries and malt houses.[6]

Malt is germinated grain (usually barley), used in brewing and distilling.[7] The first breweries established in Australia used imported malt from England, but by the first decade of the nineteenth century, a number of breweries included malt houses, for converting local barley to malt.[8]

The first stage of the floor malting process involved soaking the grain in a large tank or cistern, frequently termed the ‘steep', to raise its moisture level. The next stage was the artificial germination of the grain to a specific point by the control of heat within the grain. This was done by emptying the barley onto the germinating, or malting, floor. The barley was heaped up to enable it to gain some heat to encourage the germination process. It would then be spread out across the malting floor to a depth of from 4 to 8 inches (100-200mm) to grow. It would be raked and turned on a regular basis to control the heat. The final stage was to stop the germination process by drying the grain in a kiln. The ‘green malt' was laid on the perforated floor of the kiln to a depth of between 8 to 12 inches (200-300mm), and was turned to aid the drying process. After kilning, the malt was cleaned, or dressed, and either stored in bins or bagged.[9]

To produce malt using the floor malting process, a malt house required a large level germinating floor; a steep for soaking the grain; a kiln to dry the green malt; and storage areas. While there were variations, in Queensland all malt houses were two storeys with the malting floor at ground level and storage above. The layout usually comprised a large rectangular germinating floor of smooth concrete, with a steep at one end and kilns at the other end. The first floor was used for storing and cleaning the barley before delivering it to the steep below, as well as for receiving the green malt for delivery to the kiln and for dressing and storing the malt. As the soaking of the grain and its germination is critically dependent on temperature, the requirement for temperature control influenced the design of malt houses. Thick brick or stone walls were used to provide an even temperature to the germinating floor, while air flow was controlled by rows of shutters or louvres to the side walls.[10]

Producing malt by the floor malting process was difficult in Queensland's warm climate. The elevated Darling Downs area, where the average temperature is between one and two degrees cooler than southeast Queensland, became the most sought after location for establishing malt houses in the state. Access to a potential supply of barley and railway connections to Ipswich and Brisbane were also important factors in determining the location of the malting industry.[11]

The first malt house in Queensland was constructed in 1871 at the Perkins Downs Brewery, Margaret Street, Toowoomba (no longer extant). Due to a lack of adequate barley supply, however, it closed in 1878, and over the next 20 years it operated intermittently under different owners. Despite this, in 1897 new malt houses were constructed in Toowoomba and Warwick. This optimism about the future may have been due to the general improvement in the economic situation between 1895 and 1897, which saw beer production rise by 29% and imports of malt by 21%. Import tariffs on malt and malting barley also provided protection to the infant industry.[12]

The new Toowoomba malt house was erected at Black Gully, about 1.6kms north of the town centre, for the Darling Downs Malting Company Ltd. It was operated by the Redwoods, a famous New Zealand malting family who were instrumental in developing the malting industry on the Darling Downs and in encouraging Downs' farmers to grow and harvest barley for malting. Alphonso H Redwood was the managing director. The site had ready access to a water supply (Black Gully is a tributary of Gowrie Creek) and to transport (a railway siding known as Redwood's Siding was constructed to link the malt house with the adjacent main south and west railway lines). The malt house was designed by architects J Marks and Son and was located close to the creek at the northern edge of the site.[13]

James Marks (1834-1915) was one of the most influential architects in Toowoomba from the late 1860s until the early twentieth century. He and his son Henry James (Harry) Marks (1871-1939), with whom he entered into partnership in 1892, came to dominate the architectural profession on the Darling Downs for more than half a century.[14] James Marks' works included homesteads (with their associated woolsheds and farm buildings), churches, shops, school buildings, residences, hotels, banks, offices and grandstands. His son Harry Marks was a highly creative designer who invented and patented numerous fittings for providing good ventilation and natural light to his buildings, including ventilators and reversible casement windows. As J Marks and Son (which practised between 1892 and 1910) the firm designed a wide variety of residential, religious and commercial buildings, while their industrial buildings included Dominion Flour Mill, Russell St (1897-98, demolished), Crisp and O'Brien's Defiance Flour Mill, Russell St (1898, partially extant) and Perkins Malt House, Margaret St (1900, demolished).[15]

The Black Gully site expanded in 1899 with the construction of a second malt house (known as the big malt house) to the south of the 1897 malt house (which became known as the small malt house). Designed by Brisbane architect William A. Caldwell, the big malt house consisted of a long, rectangular building fronting what is now Mort Street with two kilns at the rear (western) end.[16] The new building was operated by Paterson Redwood and Co. Later called the Queensland Malting Company Ltd, members of the Redwood family were also associated with this company as minor shareholders, with the directors and major shareholders being Francis J Paterson (later Town Clerk of Toowoomba) and Townsville merchant, Samuel Nesbitt Allen.

In 1901, both malt houses were purchased by Vernon Redwood and P O'Brien, with Redwood buying out O'Brien later that year. The business was then operated under the name Redwood, by Vernon (who had been chief maltster for Perkins and Co in Toowoomba and who later served as Mayor and a Member of the Legislative Assembly) with his father and brothers.

The business was purchased in 1904 by English maltsters William Jones and Son (Maltsters) Ltd with Vernon Redwood as general manager (1904-13). William Jones and Son, described as one of the foremost maltsters in the world,[17] was responsible for importing most of the English malt coming into Australia. After federation and the imposition of duty on malt, the company needed to establish themselves in Australia to maintain their business. In addition to the two malt houses at the Black Gully site at that time was a brewery tower (erected c1898) and residential accommodation.

In 1906 William Jones & Son embarked on a major expansion program at the Black Gully site, calling tenders in September for the erection of a new malt house.[18] Costing £6,999, the new building was designed and supervised by architect Harry Marks. The works comprised the erection of a new 240ft (73m) long malt house and kilns linked to the 1899 malt house, and the conversion of the existing brewery tower to a high water storage reservoir. The new malt house included steeping tanks, a large polished cement germinating floor, two kilns, malt dressing rooms, and a number of pine storage bins. Elevators and a conveyor belt, which traversed the length of the building, transported the grain in its various stages. The malt storage chamber was fitted with 38 Marks-patented reversible casement louvred windows and a number of Marks's roof ventilators. Special kiln top ventilators were also designed by Marks. The new complex, described as having the largest malting floor area in the Commonwealth,[19] was opened on 1 June 1907. The contractor was Montague Ivory with the plastering (including the cement germinating floor) by WJ Waldron, ironwork by the Toowoomba Foundry Co, and plumbing by Partridge and Co.

Poor barley seasons put a strain on the finances of William Jones & Son and the company ceased operating in Queensland after the 1914 season. The closure of this company reduced the malting capacity in Queensland from 260,000 to 60,000 bushels (4718 to 1089 tonnes). The extensive facilities vacated by William Jones & Son were used in 1916 by the Government to store, process and distribute wheat, and in subsequent years were leased.[20]

In 1923, the site was purchased by the Crown. In 1930 the maltings were repaired and reopened by the newly formed Queensland Barley Board, which had been established by the government in response to agitation by barley growers to resuscitate the malting industry. Malting continued at the site until 1942 when it was taken over by military authorities. After World War II, the maltings laid idle until 1951 when Northern Australian Breweries, part of Carlton United Breweries, took a seven year lease on the malt house to produce malt for its Queensland breweries. From 1958 it was the only active maltings in Queensland, due to Castlemaine Perkins Limited closing its Toowoomba brewery and selling the Margaret Street site for redevelopment.[21]

A new period of investment in mechanised malting technology began in the 1960s in Queensland. Automated methods for producing malt increased production and overcame the effect of Queensland weather on the malting process. In Toowoomba, Carlton United Breweries undertook a $1 million expansion of the Black Gully site. This included new buildings to house automatic malting technology, increasing its production capacity from 130,000 to 500,000 bushels (2359 to 9073 tonnes). The redevelopment involved the demolition of the 1897 malt house, the 1898 brewery and all but the stone kilns of the 1899 malt house. The 1907 malt house was retained and used for storage.[22]

In 1973, the maltings were transferred to Carlton United Brewers (NQ) Ltd. In 1987, the south-east portion of the site, formerly containing the water tower and other associated buildings, was sold. Ownership of the remainder of the site, containing the floor maltings and the automated maltings, has been transferred a number of times since. Further building extensions took place in the late 1980s.

Of the eight malt houses constructed in Queensland prior to the introduction of mechanised malting technology in the 1960s, all but two have been demolished. The 1897 malt house in Warwick still exists but has had the kilns removed. According to expert Ray Osborne, the surviving 1907 malt house in Toowoomba is one of the most intact floor maltings in Australia, and is an important part of Queensland's industrial and engineering heritage.[23]

In 2010, the sudden partial collapse of one of the 1899 kilns necessitated the controlled demolition of the kiln roof. Since 2011, malting has ceased to be carried out at the site and some modern equipment and structures attached to the 1907 building have been removed.[24]


[1] Ray Osborne, "The industrial and engineering heritage of the floor malting industry in Queensland: The former William Jones & Son (Maltsters), 1907 Malt House, Toowoomba", Australian Journal of Multi-disciplinary Engineering, Vol 3, No.1 (2004).

[2] Maurice French and Duncan Waterson, The Darling Downs: A Pictorial History 1850-1950, Toowoomba: Darling Downs Institute Press, 1982, p.17, 130.

[3] QHR entry for 602718 Drayton and Toowoomba Cemetery

[4] French and Waterson, The Darling Downs , p.130-131.

[5] French and Waterson, The Darling Downs , p.110-112.

[6] French and Waterson, The Darling Downs , p.87-89.

[7] Macquarie Dictionary online,

[8] Osborne, "The industrial and engineering heritage of the floor malting industry in Queensland," p.43.

[9] Osborne, "The industrial and engineering heritage of the floor malting industry in Queensland," p.43-4.

[10] Osborne, "The industrial and engineering heritage of the floor malting industry in Queensland," p.44.

[11] Osborne, "The industrial and engineering heritage of the floor malting industry in Queensland," p.44.

[12] Osborne, "The industrial and engineering heritage of the floor malting industry in Queensland," p.44.

[13] Photo, Queensland Agricultural Journal, October 1903, p.317, in French and Waterson, The Darling Downs, p.102.

[14] QHR entry for 600854 Smithfield House

[15] Donald Watson and Judith Mackay, "Queensland Architects of the 19th Century", Brisbane: Queensland Museum, 1994, p.121-123; Martin Butterworth, "Russell Street Study: a heritage survey of twenty buildings and their street", 1994.

[16] The Brisbane Courier, Saturday 25 June 1898, p.3; Photo, Queensland Agricultural Journal, October 1903, p.317, in French and Waterson, The Darling Downs, p.102.

[17] The Brisbane Courier, Friday 16 December 1904, p.13S.

[18] Osborne, "The industrial and engineering heritage of the floor malting industry in Queensland," p.45.

[19] The Brisbane Courier, 20 December 1906, p.23.

[20] Osborne, "The industrial and engineering heritage of the floor malting industry in Queensland," p.46.

[21] Osborne, "The industrial and engineering heritage of the floor malting industry in Queensland," p.46-7.

[22] Osborne, "The industrial and engineering heritage of the floor malting industry in Queensland," p .47.

[23] Osborne, "The industrial and engineering heritage of the floor malting industry in Queensland," p.47.

[24] ‘Historic city firm to shut doors', The Chronicle, 28 April 2011; EHP site visit photos, April 2014


The Toowoomba Maltings is located in a mixed industrial and residential area in Newtown, north of the Toowoomba CBD. The site is bounded by Mort Street to the east and Black Gully on the north. Between the gully and the malt house is a disused siding which links to the railway line on the opposite side of Mort Street. The malt house, consisting of a long rectangular building orientated approximately east-west, is set back from the Mort Street frontage and stands on a flat platform of land cut into the sloping site.

The malt house is composed of a number of sections. Closest to Mort Street at the far eastern end of the building are the two 1899 kilns. Next to them are the 1907 kilns, with a cross-shaped malt dressing building running between and linking all four kilns. The largest part of the malt house is a two storey, rectangular, gable roofed shed at the western end, which contains the former germination floor on the ground floor and storage bins and steeping tanks on the first floor. Generally, the building has concrete foundations, load bearing brick walls, and timber internal and roof structures. All roofs are clad in corrugated metal sheeting. The numerous windows and doors are of a variety of sizes with shallow-arched lintels and are generally finished with original timber joinery, including window shutters and louvres. In 2014, original tools and machinery remain in the buildings.

A large 1980s shed located adjacent to the 1899 kilns on the eastern and southern sides is not of cultural heritage significance.

The two 1899 bluestone kilns are of coursed rubble construction with the lower level partly below ground. A central furnace once provided the heat for the drying process which took place on an upper level. Timber staircases, walkways and radial, timber framed floors within the kilns have been partially demolished. In 2014, one kiln roof has been demolished.

The two larger 1907 kilns are constructed of brick with brick arches on the lower furnace level and steel framed floors of perforated cast-iron tiles above. The kiln roofs are steeply-pitched, pyramidal roofs clad in corrugated metal sheeting. Ventilators located at the peak of the roofs have overhanging flat metal tops.

A gable roofed brick malt-dressing building runs between all four kilns. Machinery for processing grain (cleaning, moving, grading) is located on timber platforms at different levels connected by timber stairs. Sky lights over this area have rolled iron roofs. Rooms for the collection of dust are located on the upper level.

The large brick shed, measuring approximately 58m long and 25m wide, is accessed through doors at the eastern end of the northern side. The gable roof comprises a timber propped purlin and rafter roof frame clad in corrugated galvanised steel sheeting. The roof is punctuated by decorative galvanised steel ventilators and skylights. A dormer loading bay with double timber doors is located in the centre of the northern slope and a stepped tower element is located adjacent to the 1907 kilns.

The ground floor of the shed has a polished concrete germinating floor and is ventilated by timber louvred windows. Round cast-iron columns in a grid of 14x6 bays support the timber floor and floor framing above.

The first floor level, which occupies the roof space of the shed, has large, timber framed malt storage bins lined with pine boards on a malthoid paper backing. A central corridor running east-west along the length of the shed allows access to the storage bins and the dormer loading bay.

Above the central corridor under the ridge of the shed roof is a timber walkway and conveyor belt. The conveyor belt is connected via metal chutes with the storage bins. At the western end of this reversible conveyor belt, opening onto the germinating floor below, are two large steeping tanks supported on steel girders. Grain elevators are located at the eastern end of the conveyor belt in the malt dressing area.

To the north of the malt house the site is relatively open with large areas of concrete and bitumen and some grassed areas. The railway siding tracks remain in situ. Views of the northern side of the building and the prominent kiln roofs are obtained from Mort Street and the opposite side of Black Gully.

Image gallery


Location of Toowoomba Maltings within Queensland
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Last updated
20 January 2016
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