Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bristol, once more


Bristol brickwork (3)

Before I move on to something completely different I wanted to share with you one more red-brick building from Bristol, to complement those a posted a couple of weeks ago. Just a few doors along Victoria Street from the buildings in my previous Bristol post is this little stunner. The central window with its petite classical columns, elaborate arch, and central roaring lion is a showpiece in architectural terracotta, and the cornice above it is a no less ornate essay in the same material. The ground-floor arches belong to a 1990s refurbishment but the rest is to the 1870s design of J. Michelen Rogers.

I don’t know much about this building. Its original use eludes me, although the British Listed Buildings web site lists it as a shop. And I’m unsure of the precise significance of the lion with its motto “Courage”. But I do like its bold architecture – the terracotta details that catch the sunlight so well, the big central window in its arch with the dainty columns and Gibbsian surround, and the eccentric dormer window topping it all off. It all goes to prove that a small building can embody grandeur and that in an unregarded thoroughfare it is always worth looking up.

18 comments:

bazza said...

Unless I am mistaken the buiding to the right looks like a later design that is very much in sympathy with this one. I am always pleased to see that and am quite happy to see modern buildings in the midst of older ones if the planners and archtects have recognised the context. There are many good examples in Bruges and other places.
Bazza’s Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

Philip Wilkinson said...

Bazza: Yes, the design of the adjoining building does reflect this one in a sympathetic way. Interesting you should mention Bruges – I was in Ghent last summer and noticed the same thing.

Sue Hayton said...

I'm gutted not to have noticed this gem when leading our City Safari to Bristol!
Sue

Philip Wilkinson said...

Sue: It's easy to miss, especially if you are hot-footing it towards Temple Meads! The City Safari sounds fun, though.

Nigel said...

It could be the Courage centre piece relates to the eponymous brewery?

Philip Wilkinson said...

Nigel: Well, I did wonder about that, but I thought the Courage animal was usually a cockerel?

Anonymous said...

Yes, the Courage Brewery's symbol is a cock.

http://www.breweryhistory.com/Breweries/GlosBristolGeorges.htm reckons this is related to the former Bristol Brewery Georges & Co, which was acquired by Courage in 1961.

How old is the "Courage" sign?

Philip Wilkinson said...

Anon: Thanks for that. The Brewery History page you link to doesn't make it clear what exactly is the connection is between this building and the George and Co building, which is nearby on the river, but it's interesting nevertheless. I'd have thought the lion and 'Courage' sign on the building in my post were part of the original Victorian decoration, but maybe I'm wrong.

Pigtown-Design said...

Loved Bristol, and interviewed for a job there. Wish I'd taken it!

Bucks Retronaut said...

Took my Law School finals there.
Failed 'em !
Love Bristol regardless.
I blame the architecture!

Philip Wilkinson said...

Pigtown, Bucks: Ah, these connections! I nearly went to university there, but didn't, in the end.

Anonymous said...

Me again. I thought I commented a second time? Lost in the aether, perhaps. Anyway: the lion may be original but perhaps the Courage sign was added later? Although it does seem part of the original design, though.

There is some local knowledge here - http://www.flickr.com/photos/aztecwest/3687504492/ suggesting it is just a coincidence.

For more about Georges, see http://www.flickr.com/photos/brizzlebornandbred/sets/72157603342290718/with/2078148982/

Peter Ashley said...

On a list of English cities I have mostly been found tired and emotional in, Bristol would be at number two. Does this help?

Philip Wilkinson said...

Anon: Thanks again. (I only seem to have had two comments from you in total: I too blame the aether.)

From your links, and the fact that both the lion and the lettering look original or at any rate pre-the Courage takeover of George's, it does seem likely that the lion is a coincidence.

Peter: Thank you.

DJK said...

Tim Mowl, in "Bristol, Last Age of the Merchant Princes" (highly recommended) has an earlier photo of this row, showing that the ground floor arcade is modern, or at least a modern reconstruction. He says: "Last in the row was once a public house in extrovert Italianate. Its pilasters and string-course are all formed of anthemion-patterned terracotta tiles and its two windows both indulge themselves in the ornate forms of the Lombardic Renaissance."

Maybe it was called The Lion, like The Elephant in St. Nicholas Street (see Street View).

Philip Wilkinson said...

DJK: Many thanks for your comment, and the recommendation of Tim Mowl's book, which I must get.

Shutter-Girl said...

Lovely blog, I used to live in South Gloucestershire and often frequented Bristol, it's funny now seeing it through the eyes of an adult and seeing the stunning architecture. Living in the area we were always looking to Bath for the history and design, however seeing Bristol in this way was rather lovely. Great blogs!

Charlotte

Philip Wilkinson said...

Charlotte: Thank you so much: Bristol has so much beautiful architecture and I'm glad it has its share of admirers. Thanks for your appreciative comment on the blog too!