In 2019 Roger Mears Architects was appointed to work with Sambrook’s Brewery on its relocation to Ram Quarter in Wandsworth. Ram Quarter is an exciting new residential and retail quarter, combining contemporary living with iconic heritage at the historic Young’s Brewery site where beer has been brewed since at least 1533. Since Young’s started operations there in 1831 the site has contributed much to the borough’s social and historic fabric. When Young’s sold and moved to a new site in 2006, the brewery was a mix of the ancient and ultra-modern. Horses and drays were still used for local deliveries of beer within a mile or two of the brewery. The brewery officially closed on 25th September 2006 but a nano-brewery was kept on-site throughout construction and development, ensuring that Ram Quarter continues to be Britain’s oldest continuous working brewery.

View of the site: Ram Street corner and A205

The present brewery buildings are listed at Grade II*: the oldest surviving parts of the site date from the late C18 (the Brewer’s House), and the early C19 and Henry Stock’s new brewery date from 1882/3. The chimney was built in 1908. The site was listed at Grade II* primarily for its remarkable survival of C19 machinery including a pair of intact 1835 and 1869 Wentworth & Sons beam engines, but also as the main working range of an unusually complete urban brewery with C18 Brewer’s House, late-C19 stables and early-C20 public house each representing architectural and industrial developments of the long-established successful brewery on this site.

Greenland Group developed a vision of Ram Quarter’s industrial brewing heritage through discussions with Wandsworth Council and other key stakeholders. Planning consents had been previously obtained for the comprehensive redevelopment of the site, including alterations and change of use of the retained former brewery buildings, demolition of non-listed buildings and the construction of new residential buildings as well as new public areas, river walkways, pedestrian bridges, and car and cycle parking. Fitting into the arts programme to enhance its cultural offer, this project provided a viable solution to the vacant site addressing the sensitive setting through the creation of a working Brewery linked to a Taproom and a Heritage Centre and shop.

The brief

Previous permissions included a micro-brewery within the former Cooper’s shop and works to the former Boiler house to accommodate staircases and flues ready for the subsequent fit-out stages. Our client wanted to make the best use of the building’s potential by relocating the working brewery in the former Cooper’s shop and linking it to a Taproom to serve beer and food. A shop and Heritage Centre are now located in the former Boiler House and Grain receiving unit, set on various levels. We worked on the fit-out of these spaces with the aid of a planning consultant, a structural engineer, an M&E consultant, a fire strategy consultant and an interior designer. Internal and external works required a number of planning and listed building consents and negotiations with the Local Authority to agree a sensitive approach on materials and impact of services.

The Heritage Centre

The Beam Engine House was an obvious choice in which to locate the Heritage Centre, as it houses the original brewery beam engines. The Beam Engine House and Old Boiler Store represent some of the early structures on the brewery site, dating to c.1835 and c.1800 respectively, though both have undergone alterations in the subsequent periods. The Well Pump House/ Grain Receiving Building, by contrast, though pre-dating the Henry Stock rebuilding in the early 1880s, dates from the mid-C19. This exhibition space was designed to present the history of Ram Quarter by displaying salvaged items and guiding the public through a journey upwards while the historical narrative is developed. Tours are organised to start here and take visitors through the building to the brewery and the Taproom. The centre comprises all the three floors. Fittings, finishes and lighting were curated throughout by Lerose Studio.

Entrance to Heritage Centre in Ram Street

Heritage Centre ground floor: shop

Stairwell to first and second floor levels

Stairwell to second floor and display of memorabilia

Top floor level

Coppers after restoration

Heritage Centre as seen from the Square and rear entrance to the Taproom

The Taproom

The former Boiler House and Chimney house were constructed around the 1830s to house porter tuns. Though it first appears on the 1834 plan of the site, it is in character very similar
to the mid-C18 Porter Tun East and Boiler House Store. After a fire in 1882, much of the Brewery site – especially in the south-east corner of the present plot – was destroyed. These buildings were rebuilt over  1882-1883, to designs by Henry Stock. The new chimney (visible from Ram Street) was built in 1908 and the internal floors were removed from the Chimney House to accommodate the structure. We found the site ready to take a new layout and finishes. We worked on the proposed Taproom main elements, the circulation areas, the toilets and the location of some of the brewery equipment (the tanks) that were too big to be accommodated in the Brewery. Redundant structures and tanking membranes were removed where possible. The location and type of extractors and ventilation system were agreed prior to installation.  The interior design and fittings were curated by Lerose Studio.

Photographs by Tim Crocker.

Taproom with Bar and beer tanks

The Taproom:seating

The Taproom seating area and pizza oven

The Taproom upper mezzanine

The Brewery

The Cooper’s Shop had been constructed sometime between 1834 and 1869. The building originally contained three internal storeys, though it was later converted to a porter tun building, belying the apparent decline in that type of beer’s popularity during the later C19. This function is hinted at through the mid-C19 cast-iron floor in the eastern half of the building, and in the late C19 steel floor in the west, required to support the tuns, which were extremely heavy structures.  The work on the alterations to the mezzanine was complicated, it required cutting part of the structure to accommodate the equipment that was designed off-site and assembled to fit perfectly within the irregular site. Igienic wall treatment was agreed with the conservation officer as well as the required ventilation grilles and extracts to the roof.