Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Urns and tuns
Looking at this elaborate attic feature, with its scrolls, urns, and terracotta swag, one would be forgiven for thinking it comes from some grand house or perhaps the offices of a department of local or national government. But the metal-framed windows and arches below are industrial in their size and close observers will be able to pick out the 'EP' monogram of Eldridge Pope: this building began life as a brewery.
Part of a large brick complex in Dorchester, the brewery was built in 1880 to designs by G R Crickmay of Weymouth. It was constructed on the crest of a wave of expansion – the brewery became the town's biggest employer, their beer sold widely, and the owners later floated their business as a public company. Crickmay, who had been for a while the employer of the young Thomas Hardy, had a successful local practice. For Eldridge Pope he produced a design that combined industrial purposefulness with polychrome brickwork and classical decoration. This kind of mix of the functional and the dazzlingly ornamental seems to have been something that especially attracted Victorian brewers. Several of the breweries on which I've posted in the past make such bold architectural statements. Like Hook Norton Brewery in Oxfordshire, Wadworth's in Devizes, and and the Anglo-Bavarian Brewery in Shepton Mallet, this building was not only an efficient beer factory but also a powerful three-dimensional advertisement for their owners.
Sadly, beer is no longer brewed on this site in Dorchester, but the buildings are being preserved as part of a large mixed-used development. Looking up, shoppers, hotel guests, and other users of the site, can still see the monogram and remember Eldridge Pope.