Whilst the beers will be familiar to Dancing Man’s current customers, the plans for The Wool House are to create a different space to The Platform Tavern. When I spoke to Aidan back in September of last year, he described The Platform Tavern as being a cosy and comfortable pub. The Wool House on the other hand, has been planned more as a brewery and an event space.
In talking about the plans for The Wool House, Aidan was keen to make it clear that they wanted to show off the building to as many people as possible, providing a space for all kinds of people, young and old.
It is hoped that The Wool House will build on the good reputation already developed by the Dancing Man Brewery and Platform Tavern team. It will also give people another reason to visit the quay area of Southampton. In my conversation with Aidan in September, he said that some people won’t visit The Platform Tavern, as it’s too small and often busy.
I’ll admit myself, that I have often wanted to visit on my way back home on a Friday evening. I haven’t because its often busy. (I also prefer pub drinking in the afternoon with a book or some comics, but the point stands, I’m put off visiting in the evening because of how busy it can get).
From the start of the project, the plans for the expansion of the Dancing Man Brewery were always centered around the local community. It was this that helped secure support from the council and the Bridging the Gap fund.
It would have been easy to find a bigger premises on the outskirts of the city, but they wanted to be located in the center of town. It’s hoped that the new venture will help to improve the quality of beer on offer in the town quay area. They also plan on working with local businesses, improving the local economy.
Amongst the local businesses who have already benefited from The Wool House are the builders firm employed for the project, the architect, and those within the Council and English Heritage who worked on approving the plans for the building. Along with those jobs created by the building of the new brewpub, there are also those which have been created by the need to run the new location. A general manager, shift managers, bar staff, waiting staff, kitchen staff and extra brewing staff will have all been employed by the time the doors open to the public on the 27th February. Depending on the success of the business, it’s possible that further expansion of the workforce will occur.
On my last visit to The Wool House the building was far from finished, yet the building had a very industrial feel to it. This is apt, given the building’s long history in which it has seen many uses. The additions to the interior also have a history befitting of making new use out of old things.
The bars use wood reclaimed from old railway carriages, and allegedly, Kentucky Racecourse. According to Stewart , this is what the seller on ebay claimed. Whether it’s true or not is unknown, but for the benefit of a good story, lets assume that it is. The downstairs bar also features a section made from an old snooker table, minus the wood and the felt. The downstairs floor has been made with the wood of barrels from a Scottish distillery, and the wooden pillars (part of the building’s structure for it’s 800 year old lifespan), have been carbon dated as being 1000 years old.
With the brewery installed, the downstairs area feels a lot smaller than it previously did. The spiral staircase and pulley system take up a lot of the downstairs spare now that the brewery and bar have been installed into the back half of the building. In many ways, it feels like the ground floor of The Wool House has the potential to feel smaller than The Platform.
The upper floor on the other hand, seems like it will be much more spacious. A mezzanine level has been added which includes offices, a green room for bands, and a balcony on which bands can perform. The addition of this balcony means that space isn’t lost when making room for the band, a problem encountered at The Platform Tavern.
Leading onto next week’s installment, in which I shall be covering the beer plans, I shall finish by saying that when I entered The Wool House I was hit with an aroma of hot wort. It’s an aroma I expect will become even more common as industry and productivity returns yet again to The Wool House. Eventually The Wool House will be used for something else, continuing it’s long and varied history. For now though, it’s purpose is beer, and being a space for people to come together. It’s a venue I believe that many people will enjoy, whether they are beer drinkers or not. (143)