The Eldridge Pope Story
Founded by Charles and Sarah Eldridge in 1833, the company built the Green Dragon Brewery in Dorchester in 1837. Soon after John Allen Pope came into the partnership, and production moved to the Mariners Brewery, the latter still visible in High West Street, suppling taverns, inns and station hotels along the south coast.
In 1879 two of John Allen Pope’s sons, Alfred and Edwin, opened the Dorchester Brewery in Weymouth Avenue, with its own water supply and access to the adjoining south coast railway line, built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. By the end of the 19th Century the company owned 97 freehold pubs from London to Exeter. The company became the wine supplier to Queen Victoria and was one of the first to be awarded the Royal Warrant.
Throughout the remainder of the 19th and into the 20th century Eldridge Pope continued to thrive even after a fire in 1922 when much of the Brewhouse was destroyed. The present Brewhouse was rebuilt and reopened 2 years later.
The companies two most well known ales were ‘Royal Oak’ and ‘Hardy’s Ale’, in recognition of Dorset’s most famous writer.
When Eldridge Pope sold the site in 2002 the company was still managed by Christopher
Pope, one of the great great-grandsons of John Pope.
Dame Judi Dench once played Sarah Eldridge in ‘Entertaining Strangers’,
originally a community play in Dorchester about an outbreak of cholera, with the
brewery coppers used to boil bedclothes to help halt the disease.
The Victorian and Edwardian brewery buildings were designed in an exuberant style
by W.R. Crickmay, for whom Thomas Hardy worked as an architect until 1872 when he
became a full time writer. Some of the architectural details suggest that perhaps
too much beer had been consumed at the drawing board.