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Ram Brewery Wandsworth: London’s Oldest Brewery

The Ram Inn in Wandsworth is part of the original site of the old Ram Brewery. Beer was brewed here from 1576 until 2006, which made it the country’s oldest brewery in continuous operation. It is also the origin of the British pub chain Youngs & Co which was established by the Young family who owned the brewery for 175 years.

A photograph of the Ram Inn which is the site of the old Ram Brewery in Wandsworth
Ram Inn in Wandsworth: Photograph taken by Olivia Herlihy

How to Get to the Ram Brewery Site in Wandsworth

The nearest station to the Ram Brewery Site is Wandsworth Town overground station. Trains run regularly to Wandsworth Town from London Waterloo.

The Ram Inn which was part of the original brewery site, is marked on the map below.

The History of the Ram Brewery in Wandsworth

The Ram in Wandsworth

Earliest Records of the Ram Brewery

The Ram Inn was built in a perfect location for a brewery since it was close to the banks of the River Wandle and the Thames. This meant it always had a continuous water source for brewing beer, as well as access to easy transportation of the beer via the Thames.

The oldest record ever found of the Ram Pub in Wandsworth is from a survey dating back to 1550. The first record we have of beer being brewed on the site is from 1576, where a beer brewer called Humphrey Langridge is recorded as working at the pub.

The Ram Brewery in Victorian Times

In 1831, the Ram brewery was sold to Charles Young and Anthony Bainbridge, and went on to remain under the ownership of the Young family for the next 175 years.

At the time when Young and Bainbridge bought the brewery, the site was 5.5 acres, and consisted of chimneys and towers built in Victorian brickwork on Ram Street. At the time Wandsworth was a village in Surrey, since it didn’t become part of London until 1889.

Beer from the brewery was transported on boats down the River Thames, or taken by horse drawn wagons along the Surrey Iron Railway. Eventually Young’s beer was distributed to over 200 pubs, as well as sent overseas to Europe, the United States, Canada and Japan.

Plan of the Brewery Site from 1882

Today, the Ram Inn pub still displays the original plans of the Ram Brewery site from 1882. Two photographs of the plan are shown below. You can see the Ram Inn is still in the same place today as when it was originally built. The rest of the brewery site has today been converted into housing, cafes and a new smaller brewery.

A photograph of a plan of Ram Brewery Wandsworth dated 1882

In the photograph below you can see Ram Inn Yard, and several towers and chimneys. This site is where the current Ram Quarter is today.

A photograph of a plan of Ram Brewery Wandsworth dated 1882

At the time when the brewery was in use, water would be drawn from a well in the courtyard behind the Ram Inn. There also existed a large flagpole with a golden ram on the top. Today the golden ram can still be seen on top of the Ram Inn pub over the weathervane.

The Closure of the Ram Brewery

The Ram Brewery in Wandsworth closed after the chairman John Young died in 2006. The brewery’s last batch of beer was served at his funeral. The area around where the former brewery existed still contains a small brewery to keep the tradition of brewing beer in Wandsworth alive.

A photograph of the Ram Street road sign in Wandsworth

Timeline of the Ram Brewery in Wandsworth

The timeline below lists all the records we have of beer brewing taking place on this site from 1576 to the brewery’s closure in 2006.

Year Record
1550 Elizabeth Ridon is recorded as being the owner of the Ram Pub who leased out the premises.
1576 Humphrey Langridge is recorded as being the “beer-brewer at Wandsworth”. There are also court records which show him as both the brewer and the landlord after a burglary at The Ram.
1581 Humphrey Langridge still recorded as the owner of the Ram Brewery.
1675 The Draper family are recorded as owners of the Ram Brewery
1763 Records show the Ram Brewery was sold to the Tritton family.
1831 Records show George Tritton sold The Ram Brewery to Charles Allen Young and Anthony Fothergill Bainbridge. The Young family remained owners for the next 175 years.
1883 The current building, which is now the Ram Inn pub, was built. It is a Grade II listed building.
1931 The pub was remodelled and gained a new upstairs dining room.
2006 John Young died. John Young was the great-grandson of Charles Young and last chairman of Young & Co. The Ram Brewery closed this year.

If you go to visit the Ram Inn pub, you will see a plaque above the door with the year 1883. This was the year the current pub was built. The photograph below shows the main entrance to the Ram Inn.

A photograph of the front of the Ram Inn in Wandsworth

In the timeline above you can see that the pub was refurbished in the early 1930s. At the time there was a trend among breweries to remodel to try and improve the public perception of the pubs. The photograph below shows images of the new dinning areas that were built. You can see these images in the Ram Inn pub where they are displayed on the wall.

Photographs of the Ram Inn in Wandsworth after it was built in 1931-32

The Surrey Iron Railway

If you go to visit the Ram Inn, you will see signs of the old Surrey Iron Railway which once ran alongside the Ram Brewery.

The Surrey Iron Railway was a plateway where horses drew wagons along rails made from iron. This early railway linked up Wandsworth Town with Croydon and Mitcham. It was established in parliament in 1801 and ran directly past the Ram Brewery on its way from the river Thames to Croydon.

If you walk around the back of the Ram Inn you will see a plaque on the wall related to the old Surrey Iron Railway (pictured below). There are also stone sleepers which are still set in the original brewery walls.

A photograph of the plaque about the Surrey Iron Railway

The Ram Brewery Site Today

The Young family who owned the Ram Brewery for 175 years are the original founders of the British pub chain Youngs & Co. Today the chain operates almost 220 pubs, and still has its headquarters in Wandsworth, around the corner from the original brewery site.

The plaque outside the Youngs & Co office on Garratt Lane in Wandsworth

Outside the current offices of Youngs & Co which are situated on Garratt Lane, you will see the golden ram on the gate.

A photograph of the Youngs & Co offices in Wandsworth.

The Ram Quarter

The area that was once the old brewery has been turned into a the Ram Quarter which includes bars, cafés, and restaurants, as well as a new development of flats. The new homes are close to the heart of Wandsworth town centre, and have shared gardens and views of the river.

Housing in the Ram Quarter

The river Wandle flows through the Ram Quarter and there are benches and cafes where you can sit close to the riverside.

River Wandle Ram Quarter

The Ram Inn

The Ram Inn pub can be accessed from Wandsworth High Street or Ram Street.

Sign at the front of the Ram Inn pub

If you visit the Ram Inn you can still see the cylinders where beer was brewed (photographed below) which can be seen from inside the pub.

A photograph taken inside the Ram Inn today

The Ram Inn pub is close to the riverside walk and situated in between The Causeway and King George’s Park on the Wandle Trail. It is very close to Wandsworth Council and Southside Shopping Centre.

A photograph of the Ram Inn in Wandsworth

Sambrook’s Brewery

Within the Ram Quarter you will find Sambrook’s Brewery which moved to the site in 2020. The brewery offers tours of the heritage centre which is dedicated to the history of brewing beer in Wandsworth.

Sambrooks Brewery Ram Quarter

The tours are run by John Hatch who was the head brewer at Ram Brewery before it closed. John kept the tradition of brewing beer in Wandsworth alive after the Ram Brewery closed. He set up a micro brewery on the site in 2006 and handed over the batton to Sambrook’s Brewery in 2020.

Sambrook's Brewery on Ram Street in Wandsworth

This post was about the Ram Brewery in Wandsworth

The Ram Inn is close to the banks of the river Wandle and is a great place to visit if you are starting or finishing your walk of the Wandle Trail at this point. There is a public square at the back with cafes and restaurants located in historic buildings. You could also visit the new micro-brewery while you’re here.

Youngs & Co sign on the front of the Ram Inn

Allan Kerr

Sunday 29th of May 2022

Great piece on Ram Brewery Olivia! Will maintain my subscription to Wandle News!!