We are sure that there are many examples of historic lettering in this most historic county town and university city, but this one deserves to be featured here:

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Cambridge Dales Brewery 1   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Cambridge Dales Brewery periodEarly 20th century image
Gwydir Street, Cambridge is the location – a short walk from the railway ststion – of Dale's Brewery, which from the image found on Facebook (above) is today about half the size it used to be – the photograph taken in raking sunlight was probably taken in the early 20th century. The curious metalwork top on the tower features not only the word 'DALES' (no possessive apostrophe, although it appears elsewhere), but also a large, two handled trophy supported on curving arms. Period advertisements show that a similar yellow-painted trophy bearing the words 'GOLD CUP' are followed by a scroll reading 'CHAMPION' to describe the beers available from the Dale's.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Cambridge Dales Brewery 2   Ipswich Historic Lettering: Cambridge Dales Brewery 4Colour images 2018
The company was founded by Frederick Dale behind the public house The British Queen, Histon Road, Cambridge in 1898 and the Gwydir Street brewery was built in 1902. The brewery was acquired by Whitbread & Co. Ltd in 1954 and brewing ceased in 1958.

In fact there had been a brewery on the site since the street was laid out and built in the 1860s expansion of the city. However, it changed hands several times and by 1889 the original Victian buildings were converted to stables. The new brewery was quite an impressive structure, at least compared with many other Cambridge breweries. There was a large three storey block fronting the street with an archway leading to the brewery yard, plus other buildings. The large wrought iron letters around the roof of the main building are still a feature of the street today. The water supply for the brewery, as with many in Cambridge, came from boreholes into the Lower Green sand, 180 feet below the city, which provided an excellent brewing liquor.

In 1911 the brewery won a gold cup for beer of the “highest purity and excellence” at the Brewers International Exhibition. In celebration the 7ft high copper replica of the cup was placed on the brewery building and remained a landmark for many years. It was removed in February 1961. The success of the business and excellence of its products resulted in supplying beer to some of the Cambridge Colleges and to the Cambridge Boat Race crews. In 1929 Frederick Dale and his son, Lt Colonel Guy Frederick Dale, became the company chairman until the firm was taken over by Whitbreads, the brewery soon to be used as a bottling plant. The site was used as a store and depot until it was sold to the Cambridge City Council in 1966 where the archway, office and back tower with the Champion Gold Medal where demolished.

Ipswich Historic Lettering: Cambridge Dales Brewery 3
Well-designed and stylish the wrought iron lettering advertised the brewery and marked its location from afar. It is in such good condition, one could be forgiven for suspecting that the signs were a relatively recent creation in 'retro/vintage' style.
Ipswich Historic Lettering: Cambridge Dales Brewery 5
The former brewery building is opposite the David Parr House once lived in by the decorative painter who used his house interior as his canvas. This gem in found inside a modest terraced house and is available for the public to view by appointment only ( David Parr worked as a principle painter for F. R. Leach and Sons – a Cambridge firm founded in 1862 who worked with some of the best known architects, designers and painters of the day such as William Morris, George Bodley and Charles Kempe.

Return to Historic Lettering from outside Ipswich
Please email any comments and contributions by clicking here.
Search Ipswich Historic Lettering
2004 Copyright throughout the Ipswich Historic Lettering site: Borin Van Loon
No reproduction of text or images without express written permission