Friday, March 13, 2020

Dartmouth, Devon

Star turn

I was instantly drawn to the brightly coloured tiles on the outside walls of the Dolphin Inn, Dartmouth. I don’t know much about the building or the tiles, except that it’s a 19th-century inn and was clearly made over in the late-19th or early-20th century.* I’ve posted about tiled pubs before. The dominant colour of the tiles is often bottle-green, but here there’s a different palette – dark blue, a paler blue, turquoise, yellow, and a splash of red around the white star that symbolises Star Ales.

The lettering is striking, and there’s a daringly vertical arrangement for the brewery name. Why daring? Because when you stack the letters on top of each other, thinner letters like the ‘I’ have empty space on either side of them, risking an unpleasing effect. This kind of layout works better with the chunkier Bs, Rs, and Es. I especially like the ‘R’, with its large loop and curvy diagonal leg, and the ‘E’ with its lively serifs and slightly curved cross-bar.

The framing tiles on either side of the lettering are very architectural – they’re pilasters, essentially, from the vocabulary of neoclassicism, but with extra decoration provided by the diamond-shaped panels and all that colour. I’d love to know which company produced the tiles that make this facade sing out, catching the eye – probably even the eye of people who spot them, glistening, from across the market place as they shop, do business, or pass idly by.

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* The Plymouth Breweries company name was first registered in 1889, so the tiles must be after this date.


Jenny Woolf said...

A splendid tile feature indeed. And, as you say, very unusual.

Hels said...

Perhaps they were trying for a more orientalist flash of colour and shape. It worked :)