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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

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Ornate Victorian tiles uncovered in Carlisle bar

Ornate ceramic tiles dating back to the Victorian era have been uncovered in a Carlisle bar.

Bar SOlo tiles photo
Judith Glover-Smith in Bar Solo with its intricate interior that is being preserved

Dennis Smith runs Bar Solo, in Botchergate, with his wife Judith Glover-Smith and son Damion.

The family took it over in 2002, and have recently begun restoring it to its original 19th century glory.

While ripping off panelling, Dennis said they uncovered large relief tiles.

“They were hidden behind panels and then had been painted over again and again,” he explained. “We carefully removed them and cleaned them up and then did some more research into them.

“They have come up like new – and there are more to take down too.”

It is not the first time 100-year-old tiles have been discovered at the property – previous renovation work around 15 years ago uncovered smaller tiles dating from about 1893.

Dennis said: “We have done some research and discovered that they are Burmantofts tiles, made in Leeds.

“These were specially commissioned for the Hallmark Hotel here, built in the 1850s and a stopping off point for Queen Victoria.”

He believes the bar was once part of the hotel, then known as the Red Lion, and was ornately decorated to make it fit for royalty.

The bar has to put the tiles back up around the doors and entrance, where they came from, as it is a listed building.

However, Dennis insists they will not be hidden away or painted over any more, but displayed to the world.

Already proud of his business, the more Dennis learns about its history the more impressed he is.

“We weren’t really aware of the history when we bought it,” he explained, “but after we found the last tiles we did some research.

“Since finding these latest tiles it has given us fresh impetus to look even further into the history.”

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