23 July 2017: Holt Festival Fringe on architect William Mindham

Beer and bridges‘ is the title of a talk for the Holt Festival Fringe on Sunday evening 23 July 2017.

Margaret Bird, the editor of the Burnham Press set of volumes of Mary Hardy’s diary, will be featuring some of their content at an event in north Norfolk in the village where the diarist lived and wrote for 28 years. Details of the venue are given at the end of this news item.

Holt Festival Fringe 2017, Kings Head Letheringsett

Two of Mindham’s architectural drawings feature on this poster for the event, to be held at the pub he designed in 1808

A neglected architect

It is largely through this diary, and to a lesser extent the building diary 1832–34 of Mary Hardy’s son William at Letheringsett Hall, that we learn of the work of a much neglected architect William Mindham (1771–1843). Mindham was responsible for some landmark buildings in the Holt area, yet almost nothing has been published about him.

Historian Margaret Bird aims to put that right in a talk to be given as part of the Holt Festival Fringe. It will be held at the Letheringsett public house designed and built by Mindham in 1808, the year his patron William Hardy junior moved the long-established King’s Head from its roadside site to a less visible situation to the south.

Margaret is a long-standing member of the Holt Society, Blakeney Area Historical Society and Aylsham Local History Society. She will be known to many in the area as a speaker at their meetings.

Why beer, and why bridges?

The Hardys were farmers, maltsters and brewers. Young William turned to an unknown wallpaper-hanger from Wells-next-the-Sea to carry out the remodelling of many of the buildings proudly proclaiming his manufacturing business. William Mindham rebuilt a tied outlet at Sheringham as his first commission for the 30-year-old brewer before turning his attention to William’s home at Letheringsett Hall and the maltings and brewery standing opposite.

Letheringsett brewery, Mindham drawing detail

Part of Mindham’s measured drawing for the Letheringsett brewery shows the waterwheel (right) powering the pumps, with the mash tun (centre) and brewing copper (with flue, left)  [Cozens-Hardy Collection]

The cupola on the poster stood atop the brewery against the main road, now the A148 between Holt and Fakenham. Mindham’s bridge of 1818, also seen on the poster, still carries the road’s heavy traffic over the River Glaven which powered the manufacturing plant.

A waterwheel installed by Mary Hardy’s husband William in 1784 drove the pumps and hoists in the large maltings and brewery and ground the malt for the beer.

It was a go-ahead enterprise, and Mindham’s designs signalled the solidity and strength of the operation. The malt-kilns beside the road are his contribution to what the leading British malting historian Amber Patrick has called a maltings ‘of national importance‘.

The Glaven bridge was not the first of Mindham’s civil engineering projects. The radical Norwich politician Jonathan Davey, related by marriage to William Hardy junior’s sister Mary Ann Cozens, commissioned William Mindham to build the first crossing over the Wensum near the point where Norwich railway station now stands.

Foundry Bridge, Norwich

The present Foundry Bridge in Norwich marks the site of Mindham’s pioneering river crossing of 1810, commissioned by Alderman Jonathan Davey

This bridge became known as Foundry Bridge after the iron foundry built next to the riverside Spring Gardens. A hotel now occupies the foundry site at the foot of Prince of Wales Road.

A ticket-only talk over a drink and buffet supper: £28 a head

Do come to the Kings Head at Letheringsett and hear about this talented man.

The event on Sunday 23 July 2017 will start at 7 pm.

Tickets are available direct from the Kings Head, at £28.00 each. Included in the price are a glass of wine, Norfolk beer or a soft drink and a canapé on arrival, a printed handout to accompany the talk illustrating Mindham’s work, and a two-course buffet supper in the garden marquee.

To book your place and obtain your ticket please telephone the Kings Head on 01263 712691.

There is ample parking, and the pub is only a mile west of Holt on the A148 (at NR25 7AR) between Holt and Fakenham. It stands in the centre of the small village, and its inn sign against the main road marks the southern turnoff leading to the pub and its car park.

A map and directions can be found on The Kings Head website:


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Margaret Bird

Margaret Bird in 2016

The editor and author of the Mary Hardy volumes

You can read about the historian Margaret Bird on the link above

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