London 1978

Peter MARSHALL


The Grapes, Borough High St, Southwark, 1978
15k36: Southwark, pub, Victorian

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The Grapes, a Courage pub at 121 Borough High St since at least 1842, is still in business but has changed its name to St Christopher's Inn, reflecting the name of an earlier inn on the site. The alley at right from which a car is emerging is Kentish Buildings (see below*.) The entrance at left is for Three Tuns House and Kings College Medical School. I think the main thng that prompted me to take this picture is the line of washing.
 
Courage's Anchor Brewhouse was on the Thames at Horselydown Old Stairs, just to the east of where Tower Bridge was later built. John Courage bought 'the Old Brewhouse' and took over brewing there in 1787. Courage was a Scot whose family were Huguenots and had probably fled from Catholic persecution in France in the late 17th century. Even in its early years the brewery made use of its riverside position and shipped barrels of porter across the world. In 1955 it merged with the other great Southwark Brewery, the the Barclay Perkins brewery in Bankside (also confusingly referred to as the Anchor Brewery) and since then there have been a complex series of mergers and sales of the Courage Brand which (I think) is now owned by Marstons. Courage's Anchor Brewhouse closed in 1981, with production moving to Simonds brewery near Reading, but I think Courage beers are now brewed by Charles Wells in Bedford. The Anchor Brewhouse has been converted into riverside apartments and a 1-bed flat there was sold recently for around 1.45 million, while the rather nice large penthouse on 5 floors with a fine view of Tower Bridge is on offer for 12.5 million.
 
To celebrate its 230 years of brewing, in 2017 Courage collaborated with the Southwark Brewing Company, a rather younger company set up in a railway arch in Druid St in 2014, to brew special limited editions of its cask ales back in Southwark for a year, with the final batch being released this month.


* 'Borough High Street', in Survey of London: Volume 22, Bankside (The Parishes of St. Saviour and Christchurch Southwark), ed. Howard Roberts and Walter H Godfrey (London, 1950), pp. 9-30. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vol22/pp9-30 [accessed 21 February 2018] is a great source of information about the older buildings in Borough High St. It was originally published by London County Council in 1950 and has this to say about No. 121:
 
No. 121, The Grapes and Kentish Buildings Kentish Buildings is a narrow court opening into Borough High Street between Nos. 121 and 123. On its northern side it still retains the red brick fronts of several 18th century houses. They are of three storeys, with steep tiled roofs, eaves, plain brick strings, and flush framed sash windows to the two upper floors. The ground floor has been reconstructed to form part of the Grapes public-house in Borough High Street.
 
The narrow entry to the yard is spanned by a four-storey 18th century building with wide sash windows at the back. The front has been cemented and altered out of character.
 
Until the beginning of the 19th century Kentish Buildings was known as Christopher Alley. It occupies the site of the inn yard of the Christopher, an inn marked on the plan of 1542, and probably so named after the patron saint of travellers, Saint Christopher. The first mention of the Grapes occurs in 1842.