During this period it was common to drink ale made from barley as it was too dangerous to drink water. Prior to sanitation, which only developed in Victorian times, everything went into the rivers, including the sewage. Catching cholera from drinking dirty water meant almost certain death.
The malthouses were built by Thomas Hemsworth c. 1785, who was a prominent maltster of "sustainable means". The Hemsworth family also owned ‘The Old Bear’, ‘The Rose and Crown’ and ‘The White Hart’ inns on Church Street.
The White Hart still exists and can be seen on the other side of Church Street. In Hemsworth's day, it was a busy coaching inn with stabling for 40 horse and another malthouse at the rear, and was a centre for local cock fighting. In 1927, the front was altered and the original centre archway taken out and the present yard entrance formed on the left.
The Old Bear is now the site of Spurrier Smiths Antiques, on the same side of the road further along Church Street towards the Church just before the road crosses a bridge.