Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Dorchester, Dorset

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.


Joseph Biddulph (Publisher) said...

Was it Crickmay's practice (with a young Thomas Hardy) that was responsible for St Elvan's church in Aberdare? (Local history says it is a "tradition" that T Hardy had a hand in it)A fine bit of Northamptonshire Gothic, with a spire - a bit exotic in the South Wales Valleys - and certainly quite different from this brewery in Dorchester. As a local practitioner, could he perhaps just switch from style to style, theme to theme, just as the commissions came up.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Joseph: I'm no expert on Welsh churches, but it looks as if this one might have been by Andrew Moseley - see this database entry:
I don't think Hardy worked for Moseley, but I'm not sure - I'd have to do some more research to find out.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Actually Hardy was born in 1840 and this church was designed in 1851 (?), so the young writer's involvement is very unlikely.

Unknown said...

The rumour is that he was involved in preparing the plans of St Mair's Church, Aberdare, (built 1864), not St Elvan's. I've seen no evidence for this however.


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