Survey of London: Volume 23, Lambeth: South Bank and Vauxhall. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1951.
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CHAPTER 12 - THE LAMBETH WATERWORKS AND THE LION BREWERY
[See plate 39.]
The ground south of Fowler's lead works, which was also part of Float Mead, was that shown on Morden and Lea's map as in the occupation of Sir John Shorter. In 1718 this ground and a house on it called Belvidere (Plate 37a) were opened to the public by Charles Bascom, who advertised that he sold “ all sorts of wines of the prime growths, entirely neat; and accommodates his guests with eatables of every kind in season, after the best manner, especially with the choicest river fish, which they may have the diversion to see taken.” (fn. 3) This was the most ephemeral of the several public pleasure gardens that were open in the 18th century along the South Bank, but its name has been perpetuated in that of Belvedere Road.
After the closure of the gardens Peter Theobald occupied the house for a time and in 1785 water works were established on the southern part of the garden. (fn. 4) Water was taken directly from the river and supplied to residents in the locality but, after complaints about the foulness of the water, permission was obtained to pump water from the middle of the river where it was thought it would be less polluted. (fn. 1) (fn. c1) The works were removed to Surbiton and Ditton in 1853. (fn. 5) In 1836 John Kershaw of Walcot Terrace, who had for some years held a lease of the ground between the water works and John Fowler's property, obtained a building lease of it from the Archbishop, which he at once assigned to James Goding, (fn. 6) and the Lion Brewery (sometimes called the Red Lion Brewery) was erected there in 1836–7 to the design of Francis Edwards. (fn. n1) In 1837 Goding obtained a lease of ground on the south side of Belvedere Road, part of the Seven Acres, from Henry Warburton, on which he had erected stables, warehouses, etc. (fn. 7) In 1853 James Goding bought the lease of the water works site and incorporated it with the brewery. (fn. 8) On more than one occasion members of the Goading family asked if they could purchase the freehold of the brewery site but they were refused in each case. In 1866 the Godings made the brewery into a company under the name of the Lion Brewery Company Limited. (fn. 2) This continued to operate until 1924 when it was absorbed by Hoare and Co., brewers, of Wapping. (fn. 9) The main building was seriously damaged by fire in 1931. (fn. 10) For a few years it was used for storage of waste paper and then stood derelict until its demolition in 1949 for the Royal Festival Hall.
It is interesting to note that the brewery was supplied with water from wells, the first of which was sunk in 1837 inside the main building and within a few feet of the river. It had to be deepened in 1868 owing to the lowering of the water level through the sinking of many new wells in the neighbourhood. (fn. 11) In all, five wells have been found on the brewery site.
The main building facing the river was of five storeys built in stock brick, with stucco work on the river and back elevations. The river front had bold Roman Doric columns which extended through the upper floors and carried an entablature. The entablature had triglyphs to the frieze and a mutule cornice above. The order stood on a rusticated ground storey podium and was set forward at the three centre bays, while at each corner there were pilasters. The upper windows, excluding those in the frieze, had architrave surrounds, those at the first floor being pedimented. The podium, which extended below the wings at each side, had recessed semicircular headed windows and doorways. Above the entablature was a lion made of Coade stone (see p. 60) which stood on a substantial base incised “BREWERY”, The rear elevation also had a rusticated podium with a slight projection at the center. This projection had coupled Doric pilasters supporting a pediment. The roof of the main building was designed to act as a large shallow tank for the storage of water. It was formed of cast-iron plates, which extended up to form parapets.
The street and courtyard elevations of the subsidiary buildings and the arched entrance from Belvedere Road were also stuccoed. The buildings, all with cornices below the parapets, were of three storeys, the lower storeys at each side of the entrance being semi-basements. On the Belvedere Road front the windows to the raised ground floor were pedimented with antae surrounds and mullions. The other openings had architrave linings, those to the semi-basement being on recessed panels and having segmental heads. The entrance screen had one larger round-headed opening for vehicles at the centre flanked by smaller openings for pedestrians. The centre opening had pilasters at each side and carried and entablature which was surmounted by a lion of Coade stone (Plate 32). The lion had been missing for some years prior to demolition.
The buildings fronting Sutton Walk and the south-east side of Belvedere Road were distinguished only by the round-headed entrance at the road junction. The entrance was stuccoed and similar in scale to that on the opposite side of the road. It also had a lion above the archway. The flanking elevations were in plain brickwork which was divided into rectangular panels.