Adams House is a Grade II listed building, dating back to Georgian times when it was part of the Anchor Brewery. Together with the connected Charrington House, it forms the only remaining structures of the brewery that dominated the local area for over 200 years.
The Anchor Brewery was first established in 1757 by Robert Wastfield and Joseph Moss, who also owned a brewery in nearby Bethnal Green. Having served his apprenticeship in Islington, the young John Charrington bought a third share in the business in 1766. Wastfield and Moss retired, from which point onwards “Charrington’s” became a family business run by John and his brother Harry.
Growth and Success
Under the prudential watch of the brothers, business boomed. By 1830 the brewery was producing three times as much as in 1766 when John Charrington first became involved, and in the hundred years following the business acquired over 10 other breweries. The business stayed within the Charrington family, providing a fortune of millions. The family was of great local consequence, and Spencer Charrington was elected MP for Mile End in 1885. However, the morality of selling alcohol was questioned by Frederick Charrington in the 19th century: heir to the family business, he renounced a fortune of £1.25 million aged 20. Instead, he devoted his life to the temperance crusade, and uplifting the poor in London’s East End.
Decline and Closure
The brewery celebrated its bicentennial in 1957 with a special brew, a bottle of which was given to every worker. By this time there were 3 bottling stores at the Anchor Brewery, producing 100 million bottles a year.
In the latter half of the twentieth century, the brewery’s ability to compete suffered. Heavy traffic on Mile End Road hampered the distribution lorries, and the site itself was “designed for the horse and cart” according to the management of the time. Planning permission to improve the site was denied.
At its peak producing capacity, the brewery produced 20,000 barrels of beer a week, each barrel being 36 gallons, which equals 288 pints.
In 1975, the Charrington’s brewed its final beer at Mile End Road. Much of the brewery was demolished to make way for the new company HQ, with only a few structures preserved.
On 13 October 1978, the new HQ known as Anchor House was opened by the Lord Mayor. He planted a ceremonial tree, then popped across the road for a refreshing drink at The Hayfield – which is also still going strong as an Indian restaurant! The gateway building, which had been listed for protection, was renovated and the new building was designed to blend with the remaining original architecture.
By 1994 the company had decided to sell their HQ, and the whole site including the listed buildings went on sale for £6 million. The 1970s building was largely demolished, and the Anchor Retail park that you see today was built.
The listed structures were purchased by the Senior Partners of Adams Solicitors, who converted one house into flats (Charrington House) and the other into offices for the firm (Adams House). During 2007-9, they undertook an ambitious restoration of Adams House, redecorating the interior whilst maintaining many of the period features.
We hope you enjoy the old pictures of Adams House and Mile End road!