Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Angles and curves

This former seed warehouse, resplendent with glowing brick and gilded lettering, was built in the mid-19th century for seed merchants Alfred McMullen's and partly rebuilt in 1944 after bomb damage. Tucked away not far from the town’s Mill Bridge, it’s now I think used variously as offices and a store for Hertford Museum. Hertford Town Council also offers this part of the structure – the Mill Bridge Rooms – as a community facility for hire.

There's some lovely brickwork here – mainly yellow brick with some details including a diaper pattern and segmental arches above the windows in red brick. The way the brickwork curves to turn the corner* is striking, especially the way the curves contrast with the varied sharp angles and straight lines of the rest of the structure. This was the feature that caught my eye as I passed – that, along with the way in which the gold lettering shines in the sun.

It's not all brick, though. Typically of central Hertford, which exhibits a variety of brick, stone, stucco, weatherboarded, and timber-framed buildings, there are several different materials on display here – hammered sandstone around the doorway, slates on the roof and cladding the hoist chamber that sticks out above the doors to the right, even a bit of pebbledashing along the eaves course. It's a rich mixture that works, and is a tribute both to the flair of Victorian builders and the efforts of those who have conserved and maintained the building more recently.

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* Regular readers will know that I have a particular liking for buildings that turn tight angles with curved walls, as exemplified here and here.


Peter Ashley said...

Wonderful. McMullen's also gave their name to the town's biggest brewery, a dray from which is featured in Tom Gentleman's School Print of Hertford called 'Grey Horses'. The boy standing in the foreground is his son, David. I think the brewery is still in business, but probably now in some out-of-town shed. Like Brakespear's.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Peter: Thank you. I've seen that School Print but didn't realise it was Hertford at the timer I saw it. McMullen's brewery still towers over the town centre and, do you know, I think they still brew there. They certainly have the address 26 Old Cross, which is there or thereabouts.

Joe Treasure said...

I love the curved brickwork. And the lettering following that curve must catch the light from different angles. Good to see a building like this so well restored.

TJGR said...

McMullens do indeed still brew in Hertford - walk down towards Sainsbury's and you'll pass the brewery and see them at work.
McMullens also owned the Green Dragon hotel round the corner (long since defunct), whose fab signage I'm sure you noticed, promising amongst other things accommodation for cyclists, good stabling & motor pit.