Sunday, 28 July 2019

A bed for the night

On my recent North Downs Way walk I stayed in a couple of really nice bed & breakfast places. Quiet and tucked out of the way, they weren’t cheap, costing more than I’d pay on a nightly basis for a hotel room on a city break in Europe. However, for the relaxing experience they offered – something much needed after a hard day’s walking, they were worth every penny.

I promised the proprietors of both establishments that I would give them a good write-up, not on Trip Advisor, but on this blog, which of course is free from the bias and other constraints that affect the former. So what you are about to read are my own observations and comments, about two quite different, but equally pleasant bed and breakfast places. It goes without saying that I received no inducements, financial or other wise, to write these two reviews.

The first establishment was the intriguingly named, Pigeonwood House; an old farmhouse dating back to 1769. The house is situated on the edge of the tiny hamlet of Arpinge, high on the North Downs, above Folkestone, in a tranquil and very rural setting. Being only 300 yards from the NDW, it was ideal from my point of view, although the advertised “spectacular views of the surrounding countryside, then across the sea to France,” failed to materialise due to a combination of low cloud and light rain the following morning.

Pigeonwood House is under ten minutes from the Channel Tunnel Terminal; the vast marshalling yards for both freight traffic and cars, at the foot of the escarpment, are visible from the end of the road, Dover is only another ten minutes further. Many guests at Pigeonwood House take advantage of this proximity when traveling to and from the continent, enjoying the homely and peaceful atmosphere, before hitting the road, so to speak.

Despite the closeness of the terminal, I couldn’t hear any noise from all this activity taking place, just below the downs, and slept like the proverbial log. I had the impression that Mary the landlady was shocked not only at how tired I looked when I turned up an hour and a half after my estimated time of arrival, but also how refreshed and revived I appeared the following morning, after eight hours sleep and a rather satisfying full-English breakfast.

I wolfed the breakfast down, complementing it with cereal to start and plenty of toast and marmalade, mindful of the fact that apart from scoffing most of the complimentary biscuits in my room, I hadn’t eaten since the previous lunchtime. I had planned an evening visit to the curiously named Cat & Custard Pot pub, at the equally strange-sounding hamlet of Paddlesworth.

The pub is slightly under a mile and a half from Pigeonwood House, and under normal circumstances I would quite happily have walked there. But having just covered over fourteen miles, with a heavy pack on my back, I thought better of it. Mary did offer to drive me there, when I arrived, but all I wanted was to get my boots off and dive under a nice refreshing shower.

I was also working on the assumption that the offer of a lift didn’t extend to collecting me, later in the evening, so I politely declined her offer, as in all seriousness I didn’t feel up to walking even that short distance. After reading a review on, I later discovered that it did, but given the fact I enjoyed an early night and eight hours unbroken sleep - a real rarity for me, I'm convinced I made the right decision.

There were no such problems with walking to the pub from the second B&B; a modern and contemporary AA 4-star-rated establishment called, “Brambles,” situated in the village of Eythorne. Here, hosts Mike and Claire offer luxurious bed and breakfast accommodation, with everything you need to lean back, relax and enjoy your stay, with a comfortable bed and modern, en-suite bathroom.

The chilled water and fresh milk in waiting in the room’s silent fridge, (an important consideration if you're a light sleeper), along with a rather scrumptious homemade cake, courtesy of the hosts, were a nice touch although, despite my best efforts, there was rather too much lemon-drizzle cake for me to manage on my own. The following morning, Claire wrapped up what was left for me, to see me on my way, along with a pre-ordered packed lunch.

Eythorne is a couple of miles away from the NDW trail, which passes through the neighbouring village of Sheperherdswell. I’d arrived at the local station, after travelling from Dover by train, (I’d walked the Sheperherdswell – Dover section a couple of years previously.) After a phone call, host Mike very kindly collected me from the station and also dropped me off at the start of the NDW, the following morning.

The evening of my arrival, saw me up for a walk to the local pub. Following the closure of the White Horse, just a couple of minutes walk from Brambles, this meant a half-mile walk to the Crown, at the other end of the village. My route took me down the hill to Eythorne station, a reconstructed platform and signal box, on the heritage East Kent Railway, which runs between the village and Sheperdswell.

The line was constructed between 1911 and 1917, to light railway standards, by the legendary engineer, Colonel H .F. Stephens. It ran between Shepherdswell and the Kent Coalfields, its primary purpose being to carry coal. It remained operational as far as Tilmanstone Colliery, until the 1984-85 Miners Strike. Following the closure, a year later, of Tilmanstone, services on the line ceased in 1987.

I then followed the road up the hill, past the rather large Baptist Church, to the village shop and post office. The attractive looking Crown was a little further on, along the road which leads out of the village, towards Dover.

I had a good meal a the pub, and some equally good beer – St Austell Proper Job, before returning to Brambles for the night. After a good night’s sleep and a substantial full English breakfast the following morning, I was dropped off, where the NDW crossed the road into Shepherdswell, as mentioned above.

Like Pigeonwood House, Brambles accommodates quite a few visitors from overseas, as well as hikers like me, who appreciate a little luxury after a long and hard day’s walk. I can recommend them both, if you are ever in that part of East Kent.

Thursday, 25 July 2019

"Short cuts make delays, but inns make longer ones."

Question, when you’re embarking on a long distance walk, possibly one that’s part of a national, long-distance trail, do you factor in a pub stop? If  you do, at what stage of the walk should the ideal pub stop be? The answer may surprise you when I say the ideal time for a pub stop should be at the end of a long walk, rather than in the middle.

I appreciate everyone is different, but for me, stopping for just one beer slows me down, and two slows me down even further. I will reveal the perils of lingering longer than that a little later, but I speak from many years experience of rambling and long distance walking.

I say all this as someone who likes pubs and really likes a beer. It’s fine if it’s just a short walk you’ve embarked on  - five or six miles, for example;  but when you start getting into double figures, that’s when a pub stop becomes fraught with difficulties.

I appreciate the temptation to stop for a swift pint is often irresistible; it was just over a week ago, when I called in at the idyllic Tiger Inn, but stopping on a long walk for any length of time not only eats significantly into your remaining walking time, but will cause you some difficulty when it comes to getting going again.

Your legs will have stiffened up, and your reserves of energy will seem to be exhausted. Too much beer can adversely affect your blood sugar levels, leading to you feeling tired, even before you start walking again.

So without sounding like a right kill-joy, if you do feel the need to stop at a pub, during the course of a lengthy walk, then try to ensure it is at least past the halfway point, and  preferably much further.

Another point worth keeping in mind is the location of the pub. If it is situated directly on the trail, or just a few hundred yards off it, then all well and good, but if it involves a major detour, not only are you wasting walking time, you are also increasing your total mileage.

There is also the golden rule of  “Not losing height,” as if you do, you will invariably have to regain it at some stage. My friend Eric and I followed this rule whilst walking the South Downs Way, even though we both like a drink, but it was essential given the distances involved between the various stages.

It was only on the final day of the walk, when we were making for the end of the trail, in Winchester, when we came unstuck. Our route led us right past the door of the excellent Milbury’s pub, near Beauworth, high on the downs to the east of Winchester.

It was a gloriously bright autumnal day, at the beginning of October,  and feeling pleased with our progress, and the fact we would be completing the SDW later that day, we decided to call in for a couple of pints, plus a quick bite to eat.

Both beer and food were good, as was the pub, but when my companion got chatting to a group of the local and a further pint appeared, I knew it wasn’t going to end well. We still had quite a few miles to go, and unlike the previous sections of the walk, which took place in early summer, we knew that in early October, darkness would be upon us much earlier than it would in June.

By the time we got our packs on and started walking again, not only had our legs tightened up, but our walk turned into a race against the clock. Forcing already tired limbs to walk quickly is not a good idea and, as we waked thorough a section of forest, we could sense the gathering gloom and the fading light.

It was getting dark by the time we reached the outskirts of Winchester, but at least we were in a built up area.  An important lesson had been learned, and one well worth taking note of.

I want to end with a famous literary example of the possible pit-falls of stopping off for a pint, whilst out walking. It is from the “Fellowship of the Ring”  - the first volume of JRR Tolkien’s classic, “Lord of the Rings.”

Frodo Baggins is journeying through the Shire (the fictional land where the Hobbits lived, in Tolkien’s imaginary world), with two friends; Samwise Gamgee and Peregrin Took (Pippin). They are travelling from Frodo and Sam’s home at Hobbiton, in the centre of the Shire to Bucklebury, in the far east.

If you’ve read the books, you will know the three companions are fleeing from danger, whilst carrying a precious, but secret burden, but that is an aside to what comes next. Pippin wants to stop for a drink, but Frodo is reluctant to do so as he fears his friends will spend too much time in the pub. As a result, he makes them take a detour. Pippin accepts the decision but is not impressed:

 “All right,” said Pippin, “I will follow you into every bog and ditch. But it is hard. I had counted on passing the Golden Perch at Stock before sundown.  The best beer in Eastfarthing, or used to be: it is a long time since I tasted it. 

“That settles it,” said Frodo. “Short cuts make delays but inns make longer ones. At all costs we must keep you away from the Golden Perch. We want to get to Bucklebury before dark. What do you say Sam?” 

 “I will go along with you Mr Frodo,” said Sam (in spite of private misgivings and a deep regret for the best beer in the Eastfarthing)”.  

ps. Like the quest for some imaginary Shangri-La, I have spent much of the last 40 plus years trying to find the Golden Perch!  

Monday, 22 July 2019

Perfect Five

Well just when I thought that beer couldn’t get much better than that totally unexpected pint of Young’s Ordinary, in the Tiger Inn on day one of my walk, another even more amazing beery experience managed to top that on day three.

Friday was the third, and final day of that particular North Downs Way section, and whilst I didn’t quite manage to close off the “Canterbury Loop,” I only missed out by four miles. That short stretch can be completed another time, but having walked the 10 miles from Shepherdswell, I was pleased with myself just for reaching Canterbury. 

There’s something deceptive about entering a town or city on foot, especially when you’ve just been walking through open countryside. First there are things to walk past like industrial estates, low-density housing, allotments, the odd school etc, and that initial flush of enthusiasm that comes with thinking you’ve arrived, soon gets lost when you realise there’s still a mile or two to go.

A city like Canterbury is particularly frustrating as you will have spotted the cathedral from some distance away, and the longer you walk towards it , the further away it seems to become. I remember a similar experience whilst walking into Lewes, on the South Down Way, when the castle which dominates the town from afar, appeared to do exactly the same thing. Still, at least it wasn’t pouring down with rain, this time around!

What my route into Canterbury did achieve though, was to take me through an area of the city that I hadn’t been in before; despite me thinking that I really knew the place. So after passing the remains of  St Augustine’s Abbey, the city gaol, and some brand new buildings constructed for Canterbury Christ Church University, I arrived at the inner-city ring road, which follows Canterbury’s still largely intact, medieval city walls.

I did think of calling in at the lovely little New Inn, and would have done so had I known that a group of West Kent CAMRA members would be heading there after attending the Kent Beer Festival (plastic glasses only, so no thanks!). Instead I kept going until  I reached the gate to the cathedral precincts.

I had planned to visit Canterbury Brewers in their recently re-sited Foundry Brew-Pub, but I was the wrong side of the High Street for that. Instead I headed for the Old Buttermarket, an historic old pub, owned by the Nicholson’s chain of slightly  upmarket pubs.

The pub fronts on to a small pedestrianised square, right opposite the cathedral gate, and the tables and chairs set outside always look inviting, especially in summer. With this in mind, my intention was to sit outside and enjoy a beer, whilst watching the world go by.

I’d been to the Old Buttermarket  on several previous occasions with friends, so I knew that whilst the pub is somewhat upmarket, it does serves a diverse and changing range of interesting beers. Upon entering I saw that Fuller’s beers featured quite prominently on the beer menu, but after deciding to go for the Dark Star American Pale, and being on the verge of ordering a pint, I noticed right out the corner of my eye a tap for Pilsner Urquell, almost hidden amongst some of the other keg taps.

I had an abrupt change of mind, as it’s not everyday you find a pub serving one of your all-time favourite beers, as along with St Austell, Proper Job, Pilsner Urquell is one of my go-to beers for drinking at home.

I just love its blend of rich, sweet malt,  with the juiciness that can only come from a traditional triple-decoction mash. This is set against just the right degree of bitterness from locally grown Saaz hops. Poured the traditional Czech way, with a thick dense head of wet foam, that seals in both flavour plus aroma, and adds a real smoothness, you’d be hard put to find a better beer.

And so it turned out on Friday afternoon, as despite its price tag of £5.10, that pint of Pilsner Urquell at the Old Buttermarket, was one of the finest pints of beer it has been my privilege to drink – and I don’t say that lightly! If CAMRA allowed world-classic beers to be scored, rather than just cask ales, that pint would have been a definite 5.0 NBSS!

Before taking my glass outside, I took another mouthful of the beer, just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. I wasn’t, the beer was absolutely brilliant and I couldn’t believe my good fortune. I sat down at one of the tables facing the cathedral gate, feeling totally relaxed and at one with the world. This wasn’t just down to the smugness of having completed my walk, but much more to the excellence of the beer.

I was sorely tempted to have another, and almost succumbed, but thinking along the lines that you can sometimes have too much of a good thing, decided the moment had passed and a second pint would not taste quite as good as the first; even though nothing had changed. I also had an hour’s train journey back to Tonbridge, and wanted to be back in time to cadge lift back from the station, from son Matthew.

So feeling content with the world, I slowly made my way through the throngs of tourists and overseas visitors, to Canterbury West station. That 5.0 NBSS pint of Pilsner Urquell had been the perfect way to end my North Downs Way walk, and as I sat there admiring the scenery as the train hurried along the Stour Valley, I had a wry smile on face as I could still picture, and almost savour, that beer in my mind’s eye.

Sunday, 21 July 2019

Nothing "Ordinary" about that pint of Young's

You could call it serendipity, but after my reply to comments made by Etu  on my post about Sambrook’s Brewery moving to Young's former home at Wandsworth, that at the first pub I stopped at, on my NDW walk, I should find both Young’s Ordinary and Special on sale.

It was also somewhat ironic, particularly after me stating that it was a long time since I had a pint of either beer, and that whilst Ordinary sometimes makes an appearance  locally pubs, I don't recall seeing Special anywhere, apart from in a Young's pub.

So there they both were, gracing the bar of the marvellous little Tiger Inn, in the tiny hamlet of Stowting, which is situated directly on the NDW, in a sheltered valley, between two clefts of the North Downs. I’d just walked seven and a half miles, so was just over half-way on my first day’s walk. It was scorching hot day and I was definitely in need of some liquid refreshment, to quench my thirst and then speed me on my way.

There were two other beers on the bar, one a “house beer” produced for the pub by Tonbridge Brewery, and the other an offering from Shepherd Neame but, as my eyes were instantly drawn to the two Young’s beers, I only know that after looking at the photo I took at the time.

I ordered a pint of Ordinary, watching with eager intent as the young barman pulled it up.  I didn’t balk at the price, which was around the £4 mark, but instead raised the glass straight away to my lips and boy was it good.

I'm not just saying that because it was it was my first and, as it happened, only pint on a very hot day, but it was truly excellent. Cool, well-conditioned, with just the right degree of hoppy-fruitiness that grabbed onto the back of my throat in order to satiate my thirst.

I was well pleased and, taking my pint outside, found a shady spot where I could dump my rucksack, take the weight off my shoulders and sit down for a spot of pure relaxation and enjoyment. I was torn between knocking my pint back in a few long draughts, or attempting to savour it and enjoy the moment. The beer was so good that I opted for the latter; although I did take the occasional lengthy swig.

That pint of Young’s Ordinary came close to perfection for me, so even though its appeal might have been enhanced by the distance I’d walked, the heat of the afternoon, the idyllic setting of the pub and the general feeling of well-being, I scored it at 4.0 NBSS.

I was tempted to go for another, but I know from past experience that too much beer does tend to slow the walking pace. I was also tempted to try the Special, the chances that it would be anywhere near as good as what I'd just sampled, were probably not that high. I say that without any disrespect to the Tiger Inn and its management, it’s just that I know from experience that the chances of finding two beers worthy of a 4.0, are pretty slim.

Discretion got the better part of me and the same amount of miles to cover, before I reached my resting place for the night, I reluctantly bid farewell to the Tiger and its rural charms. That was not before though, asking the kind young lady behind the bar to re-fill my water bottle - something I was really glad of on the second half of my walk!

Saturday, 20 July 2019

North Downs Way - a brief overview

Well after three days walking through the glorious Kent countryside enjoying, at times, some spectacular scenery, and at others unadorned rural tranquilly at its verry best, I returned last night a trifle weary and certainly a little footsore.

I was following part of the long-distance footpath which makes up the North Downs Way, through an area of East Kent where I spent part of my childhood, and somewhere I have only re-visited briefly in the intervening years. I was also able to discover places I’d previously chosen to ignore, or was unaware due either to the distractions, or just the indifference of my early and teenage years.

Apart from some annoying light drizzle, and low cloud on the second day, which unfortunately obscured what should have been some spectacular views out to sea, over the English Channel, the weather was decidedly benign and certainly showed that corner of south east England at its best.

It was hot and sunny on the first day, although thankfully a welcome breeze did help to keep temperatures down little, whilst the final day was mainly cloudy, but with a south-easterly wind blowing behind me, it did add a certain spring to my step.

I enjoyed two relaxing and very peaceful nights in a couple of strategically placed and pre-booked bed & breakfast establishments; both of which were towards the top end of the spectrum, i.e. they would have received a seal of approval from Mrs PBT’s.

To my mind they were worth every penny, as the last thing you want after a long and tiring day’s walk, is somewhere you feel uncomfortable in. (The B&B my friend and I stayed in at Winchester, ten years ago, after completing the South Downs Way, springs to mind).

I averaged just over twelve miles a day, not a vast distance for some people, but for a relatively slow walker like me, not out to break any records and certainly not a man in a hurry, this was just right. I have to say though, that whoever routed the trail up one of the longest and steepest dry valleys on the North Downs, must have been some sort of a masochist.

Coming as it did, just two miles before the end of my longest day’s walking (14 miles), meant me arriving at the first B&B a couple of hours behind my estimated arrival time. I was that knackered that I declined the landlady’s kind offer of a lift down to the local pub, as all I wanted was to get those boots off my feet, a shower and then collapse into bed.

After a solid, and unbroken sleep of eight hours – something quite rare for me, I awoke a new man and having missed out on an evening meal, certainly made short work of devouring the full English breakfast the following morning, with cereal preceding and toast following. The landlady too remarked that I looked so much better than I’d done when I rang her door bell the previous evening!

I reached my final destination of Canterbury, shortly before 4pm on the final day. I discounted any heroics I might have had for carrying on an additional four miles, which would have meant me completing the entire Canterbury loop of the NDW. That will have to wait until another day.

Instead, I sat down at a table outside the Old Buttermarket pub, in the shadow of the gate to Canterbury Cathedral, enjoying one of the best and certainly one of the most welcome pints I’ve had in a long time. I felt like a pilgrim who has reached his destination, even though three days walking would be rather lightweight for someone on a proper pilgrimage.

As for the name of that particular pint? Well, I’m afraid you’ll just have to wait until one of the following posts to find out.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Starting over on the North Downs Way

At the beginning of March 2018 I wrote of my intention to complete the North Downs Way (NDW), long distance footpath. I said at the time that it would be a "work in progress," unlike my previous long-distance walks (South Downs Way and Weald Way). Those were all completed within a set timetable, and over the course of a couple of summers.

Fifteen months on from my intention, it dawned on me that, apart from a few occasional thoughts about the walk, I’d done nothing towards building on what I’d achieved the summer before last.  This was walking a couple of sections of the NDW’s  northern “Canterbury loop,”  starting with Wye to Chartham,  in the hills above the Stour Valley and followed a couple of weeks later by the more open stretch between Shepherdswell and Dover.

I’d accomplished these walks in the company of a small group of friends, one of whom had completed the NDW from Farnham to Dover, via the more southerly route, and was now looking to complete the northerly one. My idea is to do what my friend did, but in reverse.

This will mean completing the southerly section from Wye to Dover, before moving on to the missing gaps in the loop. This entails Shepherdswell to Canterbury, and then if time, and my legs allow, the final four miles to Chartham.

Once both northerly and southern sections of the route east of the Stour Valley have been completed, I can set my sights on the long westward journey towards the finish of the trail, in the Surrey town of Farnham.

I’ve set aside three days for the walk, with a couple of overnight Bed & Breakfast stops on the way. I’ve been promising myself a some time away from work, after what seems like a manic start to the year; a year which is already more than halfway spent. In addition, apart from a few weekend mini-breaks away, with Mrs PBT’s, I haven’t had a holiday. (Those business trips to Germany and China, don’t count!)

I’ll also be walking alone as I’m craving a bit of solitude. Although it’s nice to have company, walking on my own means I can go at my own pace without trying to keep up with someone. I’m not the fastest walker in the world, as some of my CAMRA friends will tell you, and I dislike feeling that I’m holding them back when we walk as a group.

The first day looks like the hardest, as it’s a 14 mile stretch from Wye rail station to my B&B in the hills above Folkestone. It’s then only eight miles to Dover on the following day; the uneven distances being entirely due to the lack of available overnight accommodation at the halfway point.

I’ll then take the train from Dover to Shepherdswell, for my second overnight stop, before continuing towards Canterbury on the last day of the walk. If, as I said before,  I feel up to it, I'll continue on to  Chartham Hatch, where my friends and I finished up almost exactly two years ago.

So that’s the plan, and now with rucksack packed as light as possible, and boots ready by the front door, it’s off to bed for an early night, and an equally early start in the morning.

Sambrook's find a new home

I was somewhat taken aback to read that south London independent brewers Sambrook’s, are upping sticks and moving to a new site in the heart of Wandsworth. Their new home will be in the “Ram Quarter, ” a mixed-use development centred on the old Young’s Brewery, which closed in 2006.

Sambrook’s new brewery will be set within the restored Grade-II listed brewery buildings which were once home to the much-loved, and greatly missed, Young & Co. Alongside their new brewery, Sambrook’s will operate a tap room, with outdoor seating, set around the Ram Quarter’s central square. There will also be  a visitors’ centre housing a brewery museum, showcasing the history of brewing in London.

The new facility will be opening in Spring 2020, after which Sambrook’s current site in Battersea will close. The company has operated there since it was founded  in August 2008.  There have been lots of changes in the London brewing scene since then, but Sambrook’s has remained at its heart, and is now the second oldest independent brewer in London.  

Duncan Sambrook, founder and managing director of the company, said: “Our move to the Ram Quarter feels like a homecoming. Wandsworth has had a rich brewing heritage and we’re excited to be able to continue this and secure the future of Sambrook’s brewery. It’s a fantastic location for us to expand our retail offering and is just metres from the River Wandle after which our most famous beer takes its name.”

Sambrook’s first beer was the award winning, Wandle Ale, and since its launch the company has expanded to brew a well-regarded range of British inspired cask and keg beers, which are distributed throughout London.

Returning to the Wandsworth site, brewing has been taking place there  since at least 1533. Famously the site was home to Young’s until 2006. During redevelopment the Ram’s brewing legacy was preserved by former Young’s master brewer, John Hatch, who maintains a nano-brewery at the site. The relocation of Sambrook’s will re-launch the commercial brewing from the site and continue its brewing heritage.

I mentioned at the beginning of the post that I was surprised, about this recent, and most welcome development, and that surprise is centred around Young’s decision to leave their home at the Ram Brewery in the first place.

It’s water under the bridge now, and whilst like many others I was shocked when Young’s announced they were leaving Wandsworth, with hindsight this was not such a surprise, after all. Two years prior to the closure decision, Young’s had announced a “Review of the options for Ram Brewery,” and given the size and central location of the Wandsworth site, the move was perhaps inevitable.

Wandsworth was a boom area for property developers, and selling up no doubt made millions for Young’s and its shareholders. The company’s colourful former chairman, John Young, was not a well man by time the move was announced, but whether he could have prevented the deal is open to speculation.

John Young sadly died, just six weeks after contracts were exchanged on the Ram Brewery, but earlier in his career he won fame for his stubborn refusal to stock keg beer in Young's pubs, keeping faith with traditional draught ale. This was back in the mid-1960s, when all the major brewers were converting their pubs to keg beer.

The Ram Brewery officially closed at the end of business, on Monday, 25 September 2006. At the time of its closure it was a mix of ancient and ultra-modern plant, including a steam engine which had been installed in 1835 and had been in regular use until the 1980s. I visited the brewery during the early part of that decade and would agree with the assessment above.

The brewery was famously home to a dozen working draught shire horses, which were used for local deliveries of beer to locations within a mile or two of the brewery. There were other animals as well, including a ram - the brewery mascot, plus a number of geese.

The Greenland Group, who are the current owners of  the site, are now working on their  £600m master-plan to transform the historic 4.5-acre Ram Brewery site, in a development that brings together a mixture of retail and residential properties.

A spokesman for  Greenland said,  “We have always recognised the importance of Ram’s brewing legacy, and safeguarding its heritage has been crucial to our development plans. We’re proud to be keeping Wandsworth’s beer tradition alive, while creating an exciting new destination, in partnership with a local business.”

So watch this space. In the meantime let's offer congratulations and best wishes to Sambrook’s on their expansion plans, and look forward to seeing the new development on the banks of the Wandle.