Our history

The History of The Brewery- An Interactive Map

The Brewery is a truly historic, Grade II listed venue occupying the site of the former Whitbread’s 18th Century brewery in East London, and we have been entertaining Londoners here since 1750.

Discover the rich history of The Brewery and the surrounding areas by exploring our interactive map.

Interactive map


A huge breakthrough

A huge breakthrough

The great French chemist Louis Pasteur came to Chiswell Street in 1871 as part of his investigation into beer fermentation. It was during this study that he discovered how to destroy bacteria in fermenting beer.


Something in the water

Something in the water

Chiswell Street- Traced as far back as c.1220, some sources claim that the name of this street derived from the “choice well” that provided The Brewery with its water.


A World War II survivor

A World War II survivor

This area was heavily damaged during World War II, but the east-west section of Silk Street is a survival from the pre-World War II street pattern, running between Milton Street in the east and Whitecross Street in the west.


The authors of grub street

The authors of grub street

Until the early 19th century, Grub Street became famous for the large number of poor authors, aspiring poets and booksellers that inhabited the area. In 1829 there was a petition to rename it Milton Street, but ‘Grub Street author’ has since become an offensive term for writers and low value writings.


End of an era

End of an era

Brewing on the site ceased in 1976, the last tanker pulling out of the South Yard on April 13, bringing to an end a 225-year era.


Speaker’s wheels

Speaker’s wheels

For more than 100 years, the coach of the Speaker of the House of Commons was housed at The Brewery, and was pulled by Whitbread shire horses.


The largest beer producer in London

The largest beer producer in London

From 1787, Whitbread was brewing more beer than any other brewer in London. In 1796, also the year of his death, Whitbread became the first brewer to exceed annual production of 200,000 barrels!


Steaming ahead

Steaming ahead

Whitbread was the second brewer to order one of Boulton and Watt’s rotative steam engines. Set up in 1785, the engine was used to grind malt and pump beer- the James Watt room in The Brewery is named in his honour.


Fit for Royalty

Fit for Royalty

The King George III and Queen Charlotte rooms were named after the royal visit to the brewery by George III and family in 1787.


A room to be proud of

A room to be proud of

The Porter Tun is one of the largest and oldest unobstructed event spaces in London.


Beer to the ceiling

Beer to the ceiling

The vaults beneath the Porter Tun room were filled to the ceiling with porter after Whitbread had the idea of bulk storage without using casks. It took advice from John Smeaton, designer of the third Eddystone Lighthouse, and Josiah Wedgewood, to help make them ‘beer-tight’.


Good connections

Good connections

The North Yard was first acquired by Whitbread in 1758. Rebuilt after a serious fire in 1773, a major reconstruction took place in 1866-67, when a tunnel was built under Chiswell Street to link the two sides.


A private brigade

A private brigade

Whitbread established its own fire brigade in 1892. In December 29, 1940, German bombs landed in five separate areas of The Brewery, and each of the fires was put out by the company fire brigade. Despite the amount of damage, The Brewery carried on brewing almost immediately.