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Office and Showroom, Boundary Walls and Gatepiers at Berry and Vincent Builder's Yard

A Grade II Listed Building in Crediton, Devon

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.7894 / 50°47'21"N

Longitude: -3.6533 / 3°39'11"W

OS Eastings: 283559

OS Northings: 100171

OS Grid: SS835001

Mapcode National: GBR L9.ZL8V

Mapcode Global: FRA 3770.8JP

Entry Name: Office and Showroom, Boundary Walls and Gatepiers at Berry and Vincent Builder's Yard

Listing Date: 5 June 2019

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1464174

Location: Crediton, Mid Devon, Devon, EX17

County: Devon

District: Mid Devon

Civil Parish: Crediton

Built-Up Area: Crediton

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Summary


Office and showroom, boundary walls and gatepiers to the Berry and Vincent builder’s yard, 1880s.

Description

Office and showroom, boundary wall and gatepiers to the Berry and Vincent builder’s yard, 1880s.

MATERIALS: constructed from Posbury stone and sandstone, with limestone dressings, half-timbering and a slate roof.

PLAN: the premises occupies a corner plot at the junction of Union Road and Church Street, to the sides and rear of 1 Church Street (listed Grade II). The office and showroom building forms the public-facing entrance to the site; it is a rectangular range facing onto Union Road. Entrance to the yard is through gates at the south-east corner, and it is enclosed on the south-east side by walls.

EXTERIOR: the building is a two-storey, four-bay range with a pitched, slate roof. The ground floor is masonry: primarily Posbury stone, with Bath stone copings and quoins; and the first floor is timber framed, with lath and plaster infill panels. The south elevation faces onto Union Road; the ground floor has four wide, full-height openings between stone piers. Chamfered timber lintels bridge the span of the openings, and rest on moulded stone corbels. The first bay opening contains a pair of timber garage doors. The second to fourth bays have windows with glazing bars arranged in different geometric formations. A wall plate with protruding joist-ends separates the storeys. On the first floor there are pairs of casements within pointed arched openings in each bay, with timbers arranged in crosses below their sills. Timbers studs have short braces which meet to create pointed arches beneath the eaves. The east gable end has a pair of glazed double doors with margin lights, and on the first floor there is a pair of casements beneath a pointed arch, flanked by single arched casements. The north-east angle of the elevation is chamfered and under-built, enabling vehicle access through the main gates. On the north elevation the eastern bay has been infilled with brick. The lower half of the next bay along is infilled with timber panelling, with glazing above, and holds a doorway into the building. The bay to the west of the centre is open, with a recessed doorway and panelling. The westernmost bay is obscured on the ground floor by a later shelter. A chimneystack rises between the easternmost two bays.

INTERIOR: there are four rooms to the ground floor; the easternmost of these, entered through large glazed doors, may have been the showroom. At the angles of the room the masonry of the elevations is exposed, and has been painted. Internal partitions throughout the building are formed of fielded panelling, and within this principal room is a panelled partition with glazing to the lobby to the west, and a panelled, half-glazed door. Within the lobby there are built-in panelled cupboards and shelving units, a panelled stair, and the floor is laid with slate flags. On the first floor the easternmost two bays, originally open, have been subdivided from two rooms. This appears to have been the smartest room, fully panelled, and with a fireplace, now with roughcast render on the chimneybreast. There is a large cupboard in the west wall. The western half of the first floor is not accessible from the east, and has a separate stair. It is lined in unpainted panelling.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: entrance to the yard is through a pair of gates at the south-east corner. There are low rubble masonry walls with intermittent piers, with timber railings (replacing iron) in between.

History

The former Berry and Vincent builder’s yard was developed in a number of phases, primarily between 1860 and 1905. The firm originated in 1770, with local builder John Prawl. Prawl junior apprenticed John Berry in around 1794, and in 1803 their families were united by Berry’s marriage to Prawl’s daughter. The couple’s three sons were each apprenticed to different building trades: carpentry, plumbing and masonry, and the firm passed through successive generations, attaining large contracts for the maintenance of the county’s bridges, building a number of railway stations and bridges, as well as schools, housing and ecclesiastical buildings; they are known to have undertaken extensive work on the Church of the Holy Cross, adjacent to the yard. Edwin Reginald Vincent was employed initially as a manager, and was taken into partnership in 1923.

Trade directories and newspaper adverts provide an overview of the type of work undertaken by the firm. In 1844 two premises seem to have been in operation, one dedicated to painting, plumbing and glazing, the other, plastering and masonry. The firm is listed in an 1889 directory as a builder and general contractor, stone and marble mason, builders’ merchant and undertaker, office and works. The following year the description specifies ‘monumental mason’. In 1902 the directory notes, in addition to the previous activities, that the firm is a contractor to HM War Office and Admiralty. Newspaper adverts from the first years of the C20 note that they had a steam joinery works, and that they were the county’s sole supplier of ‘Ruberoid’ – an early form of roofing felt. Subsequent adverts promote ‘Berry’s bungalows and cheap cottages – fire-proof, damp-proof, and vermin-proof. Cement concrete throughout, quickly erected’. Activity seems to have contracted after the First World War: the 1919 directory describes them simply as a ‘stone and marble masons', and in 1939, ‘builders and contractors and monumental masons’.

The firm is purported to have moved to the present site in 1860. However, no 1 Church Street (listed at Grade II), the house which stands to the east of the yard, is presumed to have been associated with the business, and census returns do not record William Berry in occupation until 1881. The 1871 census records that the house was occupied by Hugh Pollard, a mason, which raises the possibility that Berry took over an existing business premises. Initially, only the southern half of the yard seems to have been in Berry’s ownership; the northern section had been acquired and developed by 1905.

The office and showroom building is that in receipt of the greatest architectural pretension, intended to showcase the firm’s design and construction capabilities. The building is shown on the plot on Crediton’s town plan of 1889, and stylistically it appears to be of that approximate date. There have been alterations on the rear, north elevation: the ground floor of the easternmost bay has been replaced in brick, and the westernmost bay has an extension on the north side. There are matching boundary walls around the south-east corner of the yard; these are partially truncated, then continue in front of 1 Church Street.

There are several other buildings on the site (none are included in the listing), including a large workshop, a number of ancillary, multipurpose buildings, and a the framework of a hoist.

Reasons for Listing

The office and showroom, boundary walls and gatepiers to the Berry and Vincent builder’s yard are listed at Grade II, for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* a rare example of an office and showroom associated with a building company, probably built to serve the monumental masonry arm of the business;
* a distinctive neo-vernacular building whose commercial function is apparent through its large shop windows and interior fittings;
* it survives well, forming a smart entrance to the yard.

Historic interest:

* associated with Berry and Vincent, a Crediton firm in business from 1770 until the late C20, which was prolific in the town and county, and which built a number of the town’s buildings which are now listed.

Group value:

* the office has a direct visual and historic functional relationship with 1 Church Street (Grade II) and the Church of the Holy Cross (Grade I).

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