Thursday, September 1, 2011
A rich mix
There are perhaps a few people who have been reading this blog for several years, and some of them may remember that I once posted about Frank Cooper’s grocery shop on The High in Oxford, the original home of Cooper’s Oxford Marmalade. The marmalade, which Cooper made first in the 1870s, became so popular that by the beginning of the 20th century it was necessary to build a dedicated factory to meet the demand.
Cooper’s marmalade factory was built in 1902 to designs by Herbert Quinton. It’s in that late-19th-century hybrid mode which is not too far from Queen Anne and is often referred to by architectural historians as ‘Free Style’. Red brick and Bath stone masonry; big windows, carefully treated; neat details like the little Tuscan columns that divide some of the windows – this is the mix of features that typifies Free Style, and which makes this building catch the eye.
The central carriage entrance is especially ornate. The carved ornament above the entrance, the banded masonry on either side, the whacky bulges above them, not to mention the fancy iron gates all add up to something special. And up at the top of the building, the curvy (echoing the curvy tops of the second-floor windows) is a nice touch too, concealing the roof and, with its ball finials, adding some interest to the skyline.
It’s quite a rich spread of a building, then. But also, one imagines, quite practical – those big windows make for a light and well ventilated interior. Part of it is now used as The Jam Factory, a combined arts centre, restaurant, and bar, and its light, spacious interiors seem well suited to this role too.