BY FERNANDO MONCADA RIVERA
Work has begun to replace the site of the oldest brewery in Britain with a £12million residental and commercial development.
The Ram Brewery began making beer in 1533 when Henry VIII was on the throne and was operated by Young’s and Co between 1831 until it closed 2006. The site in Wandsworth was bought by Chinese developers Greenland Group in 2014, which is splashing out £600million to convert it into a residential and commercial area called The Ram Quarter.
It’s planned to finish in November 2018. As part of the renovation, £12million is going into bringing out the rich culture and history of the area. Traditions like the harvest festival, where hops grown on Ram Quarter will be made into beer at a microbrewery, will be brought back.
The tradition was lost when Wandsworth went from being a farm town during the industrial revolution.
Two artists will create exhibits that celebrate Wandsworth’s history and culture. Tania Kovats, who is known for her work with water and landscape, will create a piece which celebrates the River Wandle, which flows through the site and gives Wandsworth its name.
The second artist, Neville Gabie, has a background in sculpture and will recreate a famous photograph of a Ram Brewery staff Christmas dinner using new residents, business owners and members of the local community.
John Hatch, a former member of the Young’s brewing team, who joined in 1988, has been brewing small amounts of beer at the site in the period between the brewery’s closure and the opening of the microbrewery in order to retain the site’s longest running status.
He said: “It means everything to me,” he said. “It’s what I’ve dedicated myself to for the past 11 years.”
He began brewing one pin (or four-and-a-half gallons) a week in his nanobrewery, but eventually demand became so high that he had to double his production to one firkin (nine gallons) a week, then two firkins a week, then three.
Mr Hatch’s production, which include beers like Wandsworth Phoenix, QA, and Wilky Warmer, is not currently allowed to be sold commercially due to terms in the sale of the site, but people may sample the beer and then choose to give a donation into his honesty box which go towards the upkeep of the brewery.
He said: “It has been a wonderful time for research. I absolutely feel ready to go commercial.”
A spokesman for Wandsworth council said of the development: “It will have a very positive impact. It will bring many new homes, many new shops, and it will bring a derelict area back into use.”