The Distillery Public House, Former Coates Gin Distillery / Blackfriars

20 Aug 1999
The Distillery Public House, Former Coates Gin Distillery, 60 And 61 Southside Street, Plymouth, Devon, PL1 2LD
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Blackfriars, 60 And 61 Southside Street, Plymouth, Devon, PL1 2LD
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This information is taken from the statutory List as it was in 2001 and may not be up to date.


SX4854SW SOUTHSIDE STREET, Barbican 740-1/62/73 (South side) 25/01/54 Nos.60 AND 61 The Distillery Public House, former Coates Gin Distillery (Formerly Listed as: SOUTHSIDE STREET, Plymouth Nos.60 AND 61 Blackfriars)


Large merchant's house, later converted to a gin distillery, now part used as a public house and restaurant. c1500, was used as a gaol in 1605, as the Congregational meeting house from 1689-1705 and remodelled and extended as a gin distillery from 1793. There is no evidence that it was ever used as a friary (local tradition). Rendered rubble front with some granite dressings, rubble to left-hand return with many original granite features; dry slate hipped roofs end on to the street. PLAN: Large and complex plan includes a deep original 1st-floor hall range on the left plus the left-hand wall surviving from a further C16 range at an angle beyond, a former open courtyard to right of this roofed over in the C18 or C19, right of this another deep range with very thick walls, presumably original but with no other visible dating features, and a further deep range at far right probably added in the C18 or C19. In fact the whole former probable garden area of the original medieval house is now roofed over. EXTERIOR: 2 storeys; irregular street front with 6 1st-floor openings with windows with glazing bars. 3 of the 1st-floor openings were loading doorways ie. far left and 2 central openings with segmental heads; towards the left is an C18 hornless 18-pane sash with thick glazing bars above an elliptical-arched carriage doorway with hoodmould, wrought-iron fanlight and C18 panelled doors; left of this is a squat C16 moulded 4-centred arched granite doorway with carved spandrels and with a heavy studded door. At far left a late C18 paired sash with thin glazing bars. There is a doorway under each of the central windows, the one on the right with a segmental head, right of this is a C20 tall 1st-floor sash with elliptical head, and at far right is a fixed light with an elliptical head and inverted elliptical sill above a keyed elliptical-arched wide carriage doorway. Left-hand return has many original or later C16 openings, now

mostly blocked. There are 4 small round-arched openings on the right in staggered positions as if for lighting a staircase; left of this a 4-light window with king mullion, approximately corresponding to a similar window in the opposite wall and a 4-centred arched doorway which seems to be opposite the arched doorway of the parallel wall. Left of this the wall changes its direction and there are more C16 openings including a 4-centred arched doorway. INTERIOR: front of original hall is now visible within the former courtyard on its left. This wall contains a number of original and possibly later C16 moulded granite features, most with later leaded glazing, some in pointed-arched wooden frames. There is an original 2-centred arched doorway with carved spandrels at far right at low 1st-floor level, a small opening left of this, possibly cut much later, a 2-centred opening above and to the left, possibly a former doorway, a square-headed possible door opening with hoodmould at higher level than the right-hand doorway, perhaps formerly linked to a curtain wall or an attached wing, an original 4-light hall window with 2-centred arched lights and central king mullion, and 2 windows higher up perhaps fitted later. Low down right of the present undercroft doorway is a chamfered opening fitted with an C18 hatch and there is another similar opening right of this behind the steps but only visible on the inside.

The 2 openings which are possible doorways are puzzling features. The pointed-arched doorway seems to be opposite a blocked 4-centred arched doorway in the back wall. Perhaps there was a gallery at this end of the hall and these openings led to attached buildings or features since removed. If they were designed as windows then they have no mullions or provision for mullions, unless the present wooden windows represent a continuation of the original glazing method. Rear (left-hand return from street front) of this range contains many blocked original and C17 features. The 1st-floor hall contains what is probably the most important roof in Plymouth, carefully repaired following damage during the Blitz. The roof is of 8 bays with moulded arch-braced trusses and butt purlins, the 4 bays to rear also with moulded purlins and wind braces. Visible high up in the room below is the relief shape of a blocked 4-centred arched fireplace. The other roofs inspected are C18 or early C19: the roof over the former courtyard has pegged tie-beam trusses, the spaces at rear of the courtyard have king-post trusses. There are many other features of interest surviving from the former use as a distillery including a flagged floor of Plymouth limestone, part of which has a granite runnel. Although some recording has been carried out by the Exeter Archaeological Unit, this building deserves an even more

thorough recording exercise combined with further documentary research in order to fully establish its importance both locally and nationally. (The Buildings of England: Pevsner N: Devon: London: 1989-: 661-2; Gill C: Plymouth, A New History: Tiverton: 1993-: 35-37).

Listing NGR: SX4805354159


This is part of the Series: IOE01/0996 IOE Records taken by Derek Hiscock; within the Collection: IOE01 Images Of England


© Mr Derek Hiscock. Source: Historic England Archive

This photograph was taken for the Images of England project

People & Organisations

Photographer: Hiscock, Derek

Rights Holder: Hiscock, Derek


Granite, Render, Rubble, Slate, Medieval First Floor Hall House, Tudor Monument (By Form), Hall House, House, Domestic, Dwelling, Merchants House, Gaol, Civil, Prison, Legal Site, Nonconformist Meeting House, Religious Ritual And Funerary, Place Of Worship, Distillery, Industrial, Distilling Site, Food And Drink Industry Site, Restaurant, Commercial, Eating And Drinking Establishment, Public House, Licensed Premises, Recreational