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Victorian and Edwardian British Industrial Architecture

Victorian and Edwardian British Industrial Architecture

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Victorian and Edwardian British Industrial Architecture

346 pagine
3 ore
Aug 31, 2016


By the end of Queen Victoria's reign, factories had become an inescapable part of the townscape, their chimneys dominating urban views while their labourers filled the streets, coming and going between work and home. This book is concerned with the architecture, planning and design of those factories that were part of the second wave of the industrial revolution. The book's geographical range encompasses the whole of the British Isles while its time span covers the Victorian and Edwardian eras, 1837- 1910, and the period leading up to the First World War. It also looks back to earlier buildings and gives some consideration to the interwar years and beyond, including the fate of our factory heritage in the twenty-first century. Factories, not surprisingly given their early working conditions, have had a bad press. It is sometimes forgotten that they were often the centres of thriving local communities, while their physical presence and wonderfully varied buildings enlivened our towns and cities. It is time for a new look at factory architecture. Well illustrated with 150 colour and black & white photographs.
Aug 31, 2016

Informazioni sull'autore

Lynn Pearson is an independent architectural historian based in Newcastle upon Tyne. Her fascination with investigating and photographing architectural aspects of manufacturing originated with student jobs on the production line at chocolate and frozen food factories. She has published over twenty books, including Built to Brew: The history and heritage of the brewery (2014), which won the Association for Industrial Archaeology's Peter Neaverson Award for Outstanding Scholarship in 2015. Her Tile Gazetteer: A Guide to British Tile and Architectural Ceramics Locations, written for the Tiles and Architectural Ceramics Society, was runner-up in the 2005 National Reference Book of the Year Awards.

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Victorian and Edwardian British Industrial Architecture - Lynn Pearson


British Industrial Architecture


British Industrial Architecture



First published in 2016 by

The Crowood Press Ltd

Ramsbury, Marlborough

Wiltshire SN8 2HR

This e-book first published in 2016

© Dr Lynn Pearson 2016

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers.

British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

ISBN 978 1 78500 190 1

Frontispiece: Everard’s Printing Works, Bristol



Photography credits


Chapter 1 Development of the Factory

Chapter 2 What Makes a Factory

Chapter 3 At the Works: Engineering

Chapter 4 Building Materials

Chapter 5 Food and Drink

Chapter 6 Textiles, Clothing and Footwear

Chapter 7 In and Around the Home

Chapter 8 Paper and Printing

Chapter 9 Victorian and Edwardian Factories Today





Of the numerous people who have helped and supported the research and writing of this book, I should particularly like to thank Amber Patrick, who very kindly ran a critical eye over the text and offered welcome suggestions for its improvement. Of course, any remaining errors are entirely my own work. I should also like to thank Morag Cross for generously sharing her research on the Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society and Shieldhall. I am most grateful to Penny Beckett, Mildred Cookson, Sue Hudson, Daphne Kemp, Gunilla and Michael Loe, Ian R. Mitchell and Margaret Perry for assistance in many and various ways. I much appreciated the help provided by the staff of the British Library, Bursledon Brickworks Industrial Museum, Frogmore Paper Mill, Gayle Mill, the Irish Linen Centre at Lisburn Museum, Laverstoke Mill, the Long Shop Museum in Leiston, Maryhill Burgh Halls, the McManus in Dundee, the Mills Archive, Stanley Mills near Perth, Strathisla Distillery, and Temple Works, Leeds.

Photography Credits

I am grateful to the following for allowing me to reproduce the images listed below:

Fig. 7 Courtesy of the Library of Congress (Photochrom Collection, LC-DIG-ppmsc-08610)

Fig. 54 © Gateshead Council

Figs. 65 and 113 © Crown copyright.HE

Fig. 109 Canmore DP 144384

Fig. 146 Historic England

All other images were photographed by the author or form part of the author’s collection.


BY THE END OF QUEEN VICTORIA’S REIGN, factories had become an inescapable part of the townscape, their chimneys dominating urban views while their labourers filled the streets, coming and going between work and home. A hundred years or so before, the experience of such labour was rather different, as the vast majority of industrial employment was rural.¹ Towards the end of the eighteenth century, in the early stages of the Industrial Revolution, mines, quarries, mills and works sprang up in largely rural surroundings. Towns and cities then grew as steam power became available and the railway network expanded; the needs of their populations and the inventiveness of manufacturers ensured that factories appeared to deliver the goods, the stuff of all sorts, that people needed and desired. Much industrial employment moved from the country to the city, where many of the new jobs were in manufacturing, although we should remember that the overall picture was complex; not all factories were large concerns, not all were in towns and cities, and many small workshops survived and prospered.²

Fig. 1 Former industrial buildings beside the river Avon in Bath. The red brick structure is Charles Bayer & Co.’s corset factory (1890 and 1895); to its left is Camden Mill (1879–80, extended 1892), a steam-powered flour mill designed by the inventive Bristol architect Henry Williams (1842–1912). Partly in view beyond is Camden Malthouse.

Fig. 2 Part of the 1913 extensions to Reeves Artists’ Colour Works (1868), an artists’ materials factory in Dalston, London; a storey was also added to the adjoining works, which now houses small businesses. Note the delicate mosaic detailing.

This book is concerned with the architecture, planning and design of those factories that were part of the second wave of the Industrial Revolution. They carried out manufacturing and processing activities rather than housing the extractive and heavy industries, transport or utilities. Our focus is on mass production, assembling and finishing in factories and works, although offices are included when they are integral parts of factory buildings, as are warehouses as they were an essential part of the distribution network. This is the architecture of making things, of consumption, an architecture that transformed our towns and cities in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries through the construction of numerous factories and works, many of them proud architectural advertisements for the processes taking place within.

Britain had become the world’s leading industrial nation through its technological innovations during the late eighteenth century, but by the time of Victoria’s accession other nations were increasingly able to compete and England could hardly be called the workshop of the world.³ However, the new factories broadened Britain’s industrial base, adding in light engineering, a wide range of processes based on organic chemicals, a huge amount of food and drink processing and manufacturing of all types. Fortunately, many of these nineteenth and early twentieth century industrial landmarks still remain as part of our townscapes today, although our stock of such factories is diminishing, along with the visual evidence of their original appearance.

Chapter 1


EARLY FACTORIES OR WORKS WERE OFTEN no more than small, utilitarian shed-like additions to or conversions of homes and mills, but when greater power became available towards the end of the eighteenth century, along with larger machinery, purpose-built structures were a necessity. For clarity, we should first define factories – buildings where goods are manufactured or assembled – and works, where industrial processing is carried out, involving construction or repair. These terms are often used interchangeably, but in general works are more likely to house engineering-based activities and be based around an erecting shop; this book covers both factories and works. Industrial architecture originated as an efficient, functional solution to the problem of accommodating machinery that was powered first by water and then by steam. The spatial relationship between machines and power source, together with the need for light within the building, resulted in rectangular, multi-storey blocks with long ranges of windows allowing good light penetration. By the 1780s this basic factory form, which could withstand the forces generated by machinery in use, had been developed by engineers and manufacturers.¹

The Georgian Factory

Although many of the early water-powered mills were visually rather bleak, their spectacular setting besides rivers and streams in often beautiful countryside, for instance the Cotswolds, Tayside or the Derbyshire Dales, gave them an intrinsic beauty. The lack of smoking chimneys and soot-blackened buildings undoubtedly reinforced the impression that they were ornaments in the landscape, just as Georgian mansions were in their estates. As factories spread across the country, some industrialists began to give greater consideration to the appearance of their new buildings, the better to impress their peers, clients and workforce. The prevailing architectural style of the Georgian period was classical, more particularly Palladian, and this treatment could easily be applied to the factory facade.

Fig. 3 The main facade of Titus Salt’s massive Italianate alpaca wool mill (1851–53) at the heart of Saltaire, near Shipley in Yorkshire. It was designed by the Bradford architects Lockwood & Mawson, advised by the millwright and engineer William Fairbairn. Now known as Salt’s Mill, its huge floor space is devoted to cultural and retail uses.

Fig. 4 An early twentieth century postcard view of Samuel Fox & Co.’s steelworks at Stocksbridge near Sheffield. The site was first a silk mill, in the mid-eighteenth century, then a cotton mill before Fox took over in 1842. The works, which initially specialized in wire and umbrella frames, was expanded greatly during the 1860s. The little office building (1868), topped with a clock, was by architects Paull & Robinson of Manchester.

Fig. 5 Looking along the mill race to Gayle Mill (1784–85) near Hawes in Wensleydale, which was built as a water-powered cotton mill but converted to a mechanized sawmill in 1879. The waterwheel was replaced by a turbine driving line shafting; much of the original state-of-the-art woodworking machinery is extant.

Fig. 6 The elegant, steam-powered St James’s Mill (1839) was the third mill to be built on this site beside the river Wensum in Norwich in an attempt to revive the city’s textile trade. The architect may have been the diocesan and county surveyor John Brown (1805–76), who designed the second mill (1836–39); this was demolished around 1912, along with its 1834 predecessor.

One of the earliest examples was the Soho Manufactory (1762–66) in then-rural Handsworth, just north of Birmingham. It was put up for the metal goods manufacturer Matthew Boulton (1728–1809) and designed by William Wyatt (1734–83) from the Lichfield family of architects and builders founded by Benjamin Wyatt. From a distance the Manufactory looked every inch the country house, with its end pavilions and central raised pediment. To the rear, though, stood more mundane forges and furnaces, with an enormous water wheel to provide power. Similarly, at Slane Mill in County Meath, a flour mill was built for engineer David Jebb in 1763–66, with a three-bay, pedimented central block projecting from the main frontage. The mill was the largest in Europe at the time of construction.²

In London, the immense Albion Mill (1783–86), a flour mill designed in classical style by Samuel Wyatt, briefly became a tourist attraction before it burnt down in 1791. The classical style also worked well with smaller industrial buildings, for instance the Liverpool Porter Brewery, which functioned around 1790–1815; although still recognizably a brewery, its facade included Palladian elements such as a Venetian window and a cupola.³ Gothic also had its adherents; Enoch Wood’s pottery (1789) at Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, (the classical portion of which is still extant) featured a heavily battlemented gateway, while Irish mills of the late eighteenth century were typically tricked out with battlements and other Gothic motifs. As architects gradually took on more industrial work during the early nineteenth century, the buildings became more elaborate, but there was also a contrasting trend: less wealthy entrepreneurs tended to commission strictly utilitarian, cheaper structures.

Georgian Industrial Architects

Architects generally became involved with entrepreneurs when designing their houses. Indeed, many would not have wished to lower themselves by taking on factory or mill commissions, which in any case often comprised only the main facade; the owner and engineer or millwright decided on the building’s basic design and dimensions. The Nottingham builder and architect Samuel Stretton (1731–1811) was an exception, converting Richard Arkwright’s Nottingham works into an innovatory horse-powered cotton spinning mill in 1769. In partnership with his son William Stretton (1755–1828), their later designs included several buildings for the local textile industry, put up during the 1790s. By the early nineteenth century there were a few architects, often young men at the start of their careers, who were prepared to dabble in the industrial sector, and even specialize in works and factories. The young Decimus Burton (1800–81), who began practice in 1823, was the probable designer of the Abersychan Ironworks near Pontypool, where construction for the British Iron Company started in 1826; its classical office pavilion survives.

The first architect to build a career around designing for industry was Francis Edwards (1784–1857) of London, who studied in John Soane’s office and eventually went into practice on his own account in 1823. His long-term industrial clients were Goding’s Brewery and the Imperial Gas, Light and Coke Company, while he also took commissions from Robert Burnett’s distillery in Vauxhall (it made both gin and vinegar) and piano manufacturers Broadwood’s. Another early industrial architect was Richard Tattersall (1802–44) of Manchester, who combined his commercial work with many ecclesiastical commissions. Tattersall built at least two mills, Shaddon Mill (1835–36) in Carlisle and Samuel Brewis’s nineteen-bay cotton mill (1839) at Golborne, Lancashire. He also designed the chimney (1842) at Blinkhorn’s chemical works in Bolton, which was the tallest shaft in England until surpassed in 1909.

Fig. 7 Many mills and factories were drawn to Dartford because of its position on the river Darent. In 1888 Burroughs Wellcome & Co. bought the old Phoenix Paper Mill, which dated from the early 1850s; it was converted to a pharmaceutical plant, opened in 1889 and much extended thereafter. Here we see the site around 1905; the new building on the right bears the word ‘Tabloids’, the firm’s brand name for medicinal pills. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Photochrom Collection, LC-DIG-ppmsc-08610)

Distribution of Victorian Factories

Between 1700 and 1870 the location of the majority of industrial jobs changed from rural to urban, and the share of the population living in settlements of 10,000 people or more increased from twelve to forty-two per cent.⁴ Much of the growth was in the industrial areas of the North and Midlands, where coal was readily available: together, the West Riding of Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cheshire, Staffordshire and Warwickshire accounted for almost one-third of the total population by 1871.⁵ Historically, industries tend to cluster geographically; by 1881, for instance, male textile employment was almost completely concentrated in Yorkshire and Lancashire.⁶ At this point, the UK was responsible for forty-three per cent of the world’s manufactured exports.⁷

Steam power made possible the growth in manufacturing, but water power remained, perhaps unexpectedly, significant. In 1838 the textile industry was powered by 3,053 steam engines and 2,230 waterwheels; in Scotland and Ireland the use of water carried on increasing until the 1860s, many wheels eventually being replaced by turbines.⁸ When considering the growth of factories, in both number and size, we should also remember that some industries, such as jewellery in Birmingham and cutlery in Sheffield, retained their domestic-scale workplaces. While in the early eighteenth century the location of mills and factories depended on local access to power and raw materials, the coming of the canal system – its network was mostly complete by the 1830s – and the railways, with much construction during the 1840s and 1850s, allowed a wider distribution of basic industries. Breweries and engineering works, for instance, became ubiquitous. Rail commuting also enabled architects with practices in the home counties to maintain a London office.

Despite the consequences of the transport revolution, there remained significant centres for all manner of manufacturing: lace in the East Midlands, silk in Cheshire, carpets in Halifax and Kidderminster, hats in Luton, footwear in Northampton, cotton in Lancashire and wool in the West Riding (although this hides a much more complex picture), paper in Hertfordshire, jute in Dundee, shirts in Derry and terracotta in Ruabon, to name but a few. In contrast, single cities could foster a range of significant industries; Norwich and Oxford, for example, were both home to engineering, brewing and food manufacturing firms.⁹ London, too, had its specialisms including piano and furniture manufacturing, sugar refining and printing, and it also attracted a disproportionate number of the large multinational firms that came to Britain from the 1850s onward.¹⁰

Fig. 8 A pair of richly ornamented buildings in the Little Germany textile warehouse precinct of Bradford, both designed by local architects Lockwood & Mawson. The Law Russell Warehouse (1873–74, left) faces Thornton, Homan’s (1871), a firm that traded with China and the USA, thus the carved eagle in the door surround.

Almost every Victorian town and city had its share of warehouses of various types. Transit warehouses provided short-term storage for goods being moved from canals, roads and railways to local transport. Their designs could be quite sophisticated to allow smooth transfers, as at the unusual arc-shaped Clegg Street goods warehouse in Oldham, where railway wagons entered from a curving siding while road vehicles drove up a ramp, and the London and North Western Railway’s Camden Town goods warehouse (1901–05, now the Interchange) which included an earlier canal basin in its basement.¹¹ Postal shopping firms, which

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