The Victorian Society objects to insensitive redevelopment of historic brewery maltings in Dorchester

The Victorian Society is urging the public to object to insensitive plans to re-develop the 1879 Grade II Maltings building in the Dorchester conservation area to create 46 flats.

Photo: Grade II Maltings building in the Dorchester. Photo Copyright: Nigel Mykura for The Victorian Society.

The Maltings is part of the Victorian Eldridge Pope Brewery that survived earlier demolition in 2020. Before the brewery closed in 2003 its most famous beer was its 12.5% Thomas Hardy’s Ale which was featured in the 1978 Guinness Book of Records as the UK’s strongest commercially brewed beer.

The Maltings was designed by the important local architect G. R. Crickmay in a robust rundbogenstil or Romanesque-revival style. Crickmay had mentored novelist and poet Thomas Hardy during the author’s earlier career as an architect. Hardy once described Dorchester beer as “the most beautiful colour that the eye of an artist in beer could desire; full in body, yet brisk as a volcano; piquant, yet without a twang; luminous as an autumn sunset; free from streakiness in taste; but, finally, rather heavy.”(1)

The current plans would remove substantial parts of the internal structure, alter the historic elevations of the building and add two extensions. The eastern extension would be substantially higher than the listed Maltings and would overbear it. A new block of flats would also be built to the rear of the site in a jaunty style completely at odds with the listed Maltings buildings which it would be higher than. Taken together this would be so much change that the building would be almost facaded and its setting, and the wider conservation area, would be harmed. The Society is urging Dorchester Council to reject the scheme and the developers to explore commercial or community uses for the buildings which would require less harmful changes.

The Victorian Society Conservation Adviser, Connor McNeill said, “The loss of substantial parts of the historic structure and subdivision of significant internal spaces would harm understanding the building as a historic maltings. Its substantially intact exterior would be disfigured by alterations – especially inserting new windows and roof lights. Ultimately, this intensive development would mean the Maltings was, in essence, façaded. The new buildings would hem in the listed buildings, increasing the impression that the historic buildings are lost within a new development, rather than forming the focus of it, as they ought. Dorchester must protect its listed buildings and conservation areas, which make historic places unique. The new block of flats should be able to fund redevelopment of the Maltings themselves in a much less intensive way for commercial or community re-use which would not require such a high level of intervention.”

The brewery, built by the Eldridge and Pope families in the early 19th century, was very impressive, with its “vast mash tuns, gleaming coppers and high-sided wooden fermenters.” (2) Despite a fire in 1922 and some additions, the Maltings building remains a good example of a late 19th century maltings design. Inside the building retains its basement structure, and evidence of furnaces and drying kilns. Previous plans to convert the Maltings to an arts centre failed in 2020 as the £12.5m of funding necessary could not be found, but the current planning application does not outline what options for reuse were explored since then. It is important that all options have been explored as any cultural or commercial use would likely cause less harm to the building. The Society’s objection letter to the Council can be viewed here The Victorian Society objection letter Dorchester Maltings

To prevent the unsuitably intensive development, the The Victorian Society urges people to write an objection to Dorchester Council as soon as possible by visiting the following link :Planning application: P/LBC/2022/05674 – (

(1) and (2) Roger Protz, Founder of the British Guild of Beer Writers, and Editor of the Good Beer Guide 2000-201



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