The Brandram Brothers factory was the 18th Century amalgamation of two Lower Road chemical factories, one belonging to the Brandrams and the other belonging to James Dummelow. The factory operation was located on the site now occupied by the Canada Estate (the two early 1960s tower blocks near Canada Water tube station). It is shown on Horwood's 1913 map at the end of Neptune Street, as two large buildings but by the time the 1868 Ordnance Survey map was produced it was a much more ambitious enterprise, clearly marked as "white lead, sulpher and salpetre works." The nearby church of All Saints is no longer standing, and its churchyard is now the King's Fields.
For a period the amalgamated company was known as Brandram, Dummelow and Co., before becoming Brandram Brothers. They were manufacturers of paint pigments, including some fairly noxious chemicals, like white lead, saltpetre and oil of vitriol (sulphuric acid). Their factory was first established before the docks started occupying the entire peninsula. Stephen Humphrey states that in 1800 Samuel Brandram "redeemed the land tax on no fewer than five acres," and that by 1882 it had around 90 employees. The Brandram company also had properties and interests elsewhere in London. The factory closed in 1958 and was demolished for the construction of the Canada Estate in 1962.
|The burned-out remains of Brandram's Wharf|
before restoration in the mid 80s
Brandram Brothers moved out of the warehouse in the late 1800s. It was converted into housing association flats in 1984-8 by the architectural firm Levitt Bernstein Associates. The 80s conversion preserved some of the outer walls, but turned part of the street frontage into a courtyard and area, whilst the apartments look out over the Thames.Its conversion has retained its outer walls, remaining faithful to its original appearance, whilst completely reinventing its interior arrangement, the building having been gutted by fire. Today the building is Grade 2 listed and is currently operated as a co-operative venture managed by the Brandrams Housing Co-op, its membership restricted to low income single people and childless couples aged 18 and over, with a strong living or working connection to the London Borough of Southwark, all of whom must be willing to participate in the co-operative and Brandrams Housing Co-operative.
The building is described by Ettwein Bridges describes as follows:
Warehouse, now restored and converted into flats. c1870-80, C20 rebuild to west, late C20 new internal structure set back from street elevation which now acts as a screen. MATERIALS: stock brick with red brick dressings, recent extensions to roof behind parapet. EXTERIOR: 4 storeys, 8 bays. Street and river fronts have channelled red brick quoin pilasters and windows and hatches contained in full height round-arched recesses with keystones. River front: pair of stone fluted console stops terminating the entablature above eastern pilaster strip which does not appear on the presumed later doubling to the west. Round-headed arches to 3rd-floor windows, those on lower floors to eastern half with segmental arches and keystones; hatches (now balconies) and other windows with concrete lintels. Rendered frieze (now pierced with small windows) above 3rd floor, brick dentil cornice and parapet with coping above. Street front: similar treatment of windows and hatches, many now with concrete lintels. Ground floor wider openings with white and grey brick bull-nosed reveals. Continuous gauged red-brick archivolt and impost band to 3rd-floor arches, red-brick dentil cornice with parapet above. East return blank. West return much altered late C20.
Brandram's, Rotherhithe Street
The familiar Helen Peel almshouses on Lower Road, which were built in 1901, were paid for in part by Charles John Peele, in memory of his mother. Charles Peele was a partner in Brandram's at the time. According to the London Gazette of April 13th 1897, the executors of his will were Reverend Henry Evan Brandram Peele and Andrew Brandram, suggesting some family connection between the Peeles and Brandrams. Although neither Charles nor his executors were resident in or near Rotherhithe at the time of his death, all living in rather more privileged areas, the investment in the almshouses suggests a close personal tie with Rotherhithe.
|Side view, from the west|
|Courtyard and balconies looking out over|