Wool house History

A look back in time

This wonderful wool house building has a lot of history, documented with images and photos early on. Let us share this house’s memories with you.

The following material has been collected from various sources, and is presented with permission granted. Thanks to all contributors for all these glimpses of the past.

14th Century

The Wool House is built after the French raid of 1338 by Cistercian Monks from Beaulieu Abbey. It stands with two storeys of stone rubble with angle quoins and a tiled roof. It is used as storehouse for wool exports to Europe.
During Southampton’s time as a leading wool port it is one of several wool houses. Today, it is the only surviving freestanding medieval warehouse in Southampton.

source: English Heritage & PortCities Southampton

15th - 18th Century

Woolhouse, 14th Century

15th Century

The building is used for storage of wool; supporting trade with Flanders and Italy.

16th Century

The Wool House is now referred to as Alum Cellar and used as storage for alum (), a double sulfate salt used for dyeing cloth.

18th Century

During the Napoleonic wars the Wool House is used as prison for French prisoners of war. The names of some can still be seen today, carved on the beams of the roof.

source: English Heritage

19th Century

Woolhouse, 19th Century

Featured in the centre left is the Royal Southern Yacht Club, built in 1846 by T.S. Hack. Pevsner and Lloyd called it “the finest piece of early Victorian architecture in the city”. Built in stuccoed Italianate Classical style with Tuscan colonnades. In the centre right is the Woolhouse, which at that time was still being used as a warehouse. Next door is the Royal Pier Hotel, built in c1830 and demolished in the Blitz. The entrance gates to the pier can be seen on the far left.
Drawn and engraved by Philip Brannon. Published by W. Sharland.

© Soton Council

Wool House, c 1890

Pevsner and Lloyd argued that the 14th century arched collar-braced roof was the best feature of the Wool House. It is essentially unaltered except for the hipped front part, which was reconstructed in the 18th century. The wood is Spanish chestnut.

source: PortCities

early 20th Century

Woolhouse, 1904

1904: rented by the Carron Iron Company.

Edwin Moon in Moonbeam II

After this, the Wool House belongs to the Moon family and is used for their boat building business.
Moonbeam Engineering Company Ltd is using the buidling for construction of motor launches, expanding to include wrought iron propellers and marine engines that are soon exported around the world.

Rowland Moon occupies one corner of the workshop to work on realising his dream of designing, constructing and flying an aircraft. After experiments and test with Moonbeam I, a second aircraft is built.
The result is Monbeam II, a monoplane. In 1910, the first successful flight is from the site which is now Southampton Airport.

source: Hampshire County Council

Woolhouse, 1920

Wool House & Royal Pier Hotel, 1920

[…] the Wool House has had a varied history. It is the only survivor of several medieval wool houses which date from when Southampton was a leading wool port. According to one expert, it was the only medieval building in Europe that had the sole purpose of storing wool: in this case prior to shipment. Much of the wool came from the Cotswolds. For much of its history, the building was a warehouse or corn store. Bugle Street can be seen on the left.

Woolhouse 1920

source: PortCities


in use by Itchen Transport Company

The building used by Itchen Transport on the right is the historic Wool House of 1415, used in more recent times as the Maritime Museum. The structure’s chequered history included a spell as a gaol during the 1700s and 1800s, when Spanish and French prisoners of war carved inscriptions into the roof timbers. Flush-sided Pullman car 32 sits in the distance of this December 1948 scene.

photo by Fred Ward, courtesy of  Lightmoor Press Archive


The Wool House becomes a Grade I listed building on 14th July 1953.
Check out the following links for more informatin:
• Listing with English Heritage
Heritage Explorer

1966 to 2011

Building plays its part in the Titanic story: Southampton Maritime Museum. It documented the maritime heritage of Southampton & the Solent area.

woolhouse, 1966-2011

Southampton Maritime Museum. Titanic.


In June 2013, with permission from Southampton City Council, the Wool House is opened up by element arts, a pop-up arts organisation.
In September 2013, the Dancing Man Brewery first lodges proposals to turn the Grade I listed building into a brew house.


Plans are approved for the Dancing Man Brewery to open the building as tourist centre, microbrewery and restaurant.
DMB logo


opening of the Wool House as the Dancing Man Brewery

February 27th 2015

If you have an issue with any of the material shown ~ be that for historical accuracy or copyright reasons ~ please do let us know and we will address your concerns.