There has been a brewery in Mortlake for over four hundred years. Walking round the now abandoned site of the brewery there was a sense of all the life that had been there, and the importance of the brewery in the lives of many generations of people in Mortlake.
A small group of us were taken round the site by the developers. We went to the eastern end first, which felt surprisingly small. The tall wall along Mortlake High Street and the wall along the towpath made you feel rather hemmed in, it was hard to imagine how the buildings planned for this area will fit there.
We crossed over Ship Lane by the bridge to the west side which is more open and spacious. Buildings in a state of disrepair and bits of machinery strewn around give the western side a desolate look, it feels abandoned and in need of new life. The space is occasionally used for training by the Army, you could see why. It was interesting to see the Maltings from the other side and the bricked-in windows on the old riverside wall. The buildings that remain are post-war, the walls we see from outside are just facades, giving a greater sense of history than the reality beyond them. When work on the site starts there will be a massive amount of concrete to dig up, the whole site is covered with it.
It was an interesting visit, it is easier now to appreciate the size of the site and the prospect of its coming to life again is exciting. But let’s make sure it is the best possible development for such a beautiful place on the River.