104 Stokes Croft, Bristol, BS1 3RU
Built in 1862
Edward William Godwin
Pennant sandstone and limestone ashlar to the openings with coursed pennant rubble walling to the front elevation.
Currently roofless but originally had a clay pantile roof.
Currently closed to the public. Access to the exterior at all reasonable times to view the building from Stokes Croft.
Perry’s Carriage Works was a leading carriage maker in the days before cars. Its bold Bristol Byzantine design was the work of Bristol-born architect Edward William Godwin. There are three storeys of arcades, with five arches on the ground floor echoed by ten on each upper storey. The innovative design featured large ground-floor arches that were left open. These let carriages move easily in and out and also allowed them to be displayed.
Thomas and John Perry first leased the site in 1844 at a rent of £3 p.a. In Victorian times this area was a carriage-building centre. Another former carriage builder over the road at 37–9 Jamaica Street was recently renovated as artists’ workshops. Godwin later turned to furniture design and outraged Victorian society by publicly acknowledging his long relationship with the married actress Ellen Terry. Sadly, the Perry building has been vacant and derelict since 1979 and attempts to find new uses have so far been unsuccessful.
There are some subtle design touches here, such as the outer arches on the top two storeys being narrower and slightly pointed. An important feature of the eye-catching design is the use of large blocks of contrasting limestone and sandstone. This works was built because a previous carriage works here had burned down. The style of the arch decoration reflects illustrations in The Stones of Venice (1851–3), an influential work by leading Victorian art critic John Ruskin that praised Byzantine and early Venetian architecture.
Records of lease negotiations show that by 1909 Perry and Turner Ltd were at the site and were also manufacturing motor vehicles due to the decline of the carriage industry. By 1913 Perry and Turner had ceased trading at 104 Stokes Croft. Charles Turner had relocated to Hillgrove Street nearby and Anderson’s Bristol Rubber Co. Ltd had taken over the premises. Their Stokes Croft Rubber Works continued manufacturing rubber goods until sometime after 1960.