We’ve all seen the TRUMAN chimney. The stack towers over Brick Lane like an industrial counterpoint to the Hawksmoor spire of Christ Church. This landmark is Grade II listed and the most well-known feature of the Old Truman Brewery. What we didn’t realise, until badgering the owners to take us on a tour, is just how many of the buildings round here are part of the brewery complex.
In fact, the East End cultural centre sprawls out over 11 acres of Spitalfields, comprising 19 separate buildings and a maze of alleys and courts either side of Brick Lane. It comes as no surprise to learn that in its heyday, the brewery was considered the largest in the world.
It’s two decades since beer was last brewed here. The modern-day congeries of brick buildings and courtyards now contain exhibition halls, office space, studios, galleries, markets, dozens of bars and restaurants and many of the area’s most famous independent shops, such as Rough Trade East. 250 businesses call the place home. It’s also the location for annual festivals like Fashion East and Free Range, and has housed such diverse attractions as coffee festivals, Sonic the Hedgehog celebrations, plastinated corpses and outdoor climbing walls. Basically, it’s one big happy hunting ground for young creative types.
Even if you’ve never visited, you’ve no doubt seen the brewery. It has featured in countless films, TV shows and music videos. The combination of old industrial spaces, dilapidated warehousing and rooftops with City views make this a sure-fire candidate for any film crews looking for that gritty urban look. Foals part-shot recent video Inhaler in one of the upper floors. David Beckham stripped to his pants for an underwear photoshoot. Night scenes from the 2013 Danny Boyle film Trance were shot on the roof.
Click through the gallery above to see some of the more unusual spaces within the complex. The map below shows the extent of the estate, which also includes further properties in the surrounding streets.