Brewing up a new image for Wandsworth
Britain’s oldest brew house is being turned into hundreds of homes and giving Wandsworth in south London a whole new look, reports Tory Kingdon
Wandsworth has long been a popular choice for families and affluent young professionals, and it’s easy to see why. From the pretty Victorian cottages of the cluster of roads known as the Tonsleys to the large red brick and stuccofronted detached and semi-detached homes of the “Toast Rack” streets off Trinity Road, there’s no shortage of quality housing stock. There’s also Wandsworth Common and good schools, and while it may not have its own Tube station, direct trains run from Wandsworth Town to Waterloo and from Wandsworth Common to Victoria. Even its less sought-after Southside area has seen regeneration in the past few years; it now has a Waitrose.
But Wandsworth as we know it is soon to be transformed, thanks to a £600million mixed-use development by the Greenland Group called the Ram Quarter. The planned scheme consists of 663 private and affordable new homes, ranging from studios to four-bedroom duplex apartments. It could even fix one of the neighbourhood’s least appealing features: the traffic-heavy A3 ring road that runs through the high street will be diverted, providing better access by foot to Wandsworth Town. “If you’re walking from the Southside [shopping] Centre up to the station, you have to go around the one-way system and negotiate the busy road,” says Alex Finch, the director of residential development at JLL. “But soon you’ll be able to cut through and pick up a coffee or some breakfast on the way.”
Or even a pint. Beer has been brewed continuously on this site since the Ram’s Inn was opened in 1533, during the reign of Henry VIII, making it the oldest brewery in Britain still operating. It became the first Young’s brewery when Anthony Bainbridge and Charles Young bought the site in 1831. Now overseen by John Hatch, a former Young’s employee, the brewing hasn’t even paused during the site’s construction; Hatch has been working out of a nano-brewery constructed from scrap metal in the old stable block, where he makes “about half a barrel a week” and holds comedy nights.
Once construction is finished, the old Ram Brewery will be restored and housed in the Porter Tun Room, where porter (the dark, hoppy, stout-like beer made from brown malt) was brewed in the years following the Gin Act of 1751, which was enacted to limit the consumption of spirits in an attempt to reduce crime. Beer aficionados will be able to live in this Grade II listed brew- ery building. The first phase of new homes at the Ram Quarter – already 90 per cent sold – concludes with Coopers’ Lofts, a collection of 14 apartments due for completion next month. Prices range from £480,000 for a 358 sq ft studio to £2.85million for a four-bedroom duplex covering 2,687 sq ft.
The history of these new homes will be immediately evident, with the brewery’s beam engine – built in the mid-18th century and one of the oldest of its kind in the world – on show in the lobby. The apartments will have period features such as high ceilings, timber beams, exposed iron and brickwork, and restored industrial-style windows.
“The Ram Quarter is injecting new life into old industrial units and has been very well received locally,” says Robin Chatwin, head of Savills’ southwest London team and a Wandsworth resident for more than 30 years. “The development will create a real community from nothing and is expected to become a destination in its own right.” It will include 100,000 sq ft of retail and leisure space, although details of this remain vague.
The second phase of homes will include a 36-floor tower and another two residential buildings, and Greenland has just received planning for the third phase, which will deliver 50 homes as well as office and workshop space. This will include the restoration of Church Row, a beautiful street of Grade II and II* listed Georgian terraced houses.
These will join the bevy of new homes hitting the market in Wandsworth. The last phase of Berkeley’s mammoth Battersea Reach project has just launched, with prices starting from £565,000, while the Riverside Quarter from developer Frasers Property has apartments available from £745,000. Pocket Living’s Mapleton Crescent scheme recently released 36 homes to the market, with prices starting at £685,000, and homes in Taylor Wimpey’s Osiers Point will be available to buy early next year from £495,000. The Ram Quarter is just one of the developments transforming the face of Wandsworth – but with acres of retail space as well as the historic and active brewery, it might be the one with the most fizz.
‘It is injecting new life into old industrial units’
LOFTY AMBITIONS Prices start from £480,000 for an apartment in Coopers’ Lofts, below, the latest release of homes in the Ram Quarter development, left
RAISE A GLASS The Greenland Group’s scheme includes 100,000 sq ft of retail and leisure space