Monthly Archives: April 2014

The search for a teapot made in England…

The below article was kindly written by Nicholas. There is no particular theme to it, but it is well written and there is a lot about porcelain, stoneware and pottery brands. What he writes is the result of a long trawl through the internet to find a Christmas present – a teapot made in England – and it is to our benefit that he is willing to share his efforts. I wonder which teapot he chose?

You might also like to see my earlier article on “British Pottery – Pottery, China and Glass Ware made in the UK” to which I have been able to add thanks to Nicholas’ research.

 Been and Gone:

  • Porcelain: Arthur Wood & Sons was incorporated into Price & Kensington in 1989 and both were acquired by the Rayware Limited group. Arthur Wood closed (British production?) in 1995, so I guess any productions that might have happened since then are not made in the UK. Price & Kensington similarly are now manufactured in China or Thailand or somewhere in the far east.
  • Porcelain: Wedgwood Ltd began pottery manufacturer in 1759 under Josiah Wedgwood and has since become an icon in the ceramic industry for its fine bone china and other fine pottery. It was taken over by Waterford Crystal Ltd in 1986 and became Waterford Wedgwood plc in 1989 until its demise due to financial pitfall in late 2008 that left it in the hands of administrators in early 2009. What remains of the once great company still continues with only very high-end products being produced in Britain and Ireland, if any, and the validity of any recent “Made in England” markings is questionable.

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Best of British: The manufacturing industries keeping tradition alive in modern Britain

A very positive article in the Daily Mirror on 25th February 2014 –

Britain’s factories and workshops employ 2.5 million people, making the UK world’s 11th biggest manufacturer. Here the Daily Mirror highlights some UK manufacturing:


Here is a copy and paste of the text in the article:

“Our factories and workshops employ 2.5 million people, making us the world’s 11th biggest manufacturer – here are the best of them

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Britain for sale?

This article published on 9th December 2013 from the BBC makes interesting reading. The problem as I see it is when production is moved abroad. For example, HP Sauce is now made in the Netherlands. You might also like to see

I encourage you to ask for goods that are actually manufactured in the UK.

I have pasted the BBC article below.

Britain for sale?

“The UK is “open for business” is the message that is being sent by the government.

It is already the case that many British brands are foreign-owned. But, it’s a two-way street. The UK has its share of global companies and makes a tidy return from overseas investments.

First, in recent years, many of Britain’s best-known brand names have been snapped up by foreign companies.

The car industry is a particularly good example. The UK’s most prestigious marques, Rolls Royce and Bentley, have been respectively owned by BMW and Volkswagen since 1998.

Four years earlier, BMW had acquired the ailing Rover group. Unable to turn it around they broke it up in 2000 only keeping the Mini which has proved to be a commercial success.

Ford bought Land Rover while MG Rover was sold first to the Phoenix Consortium for a tenner before being rescued from administration by the Chinese Nanjing Automobile Group in 2005.

Ford had purchased Jaguar in 1990, but sold it along with Land Rover to India’s Tata Motors in 2008.

Aston Martin, however, is back in British hands. Well, sort of.

The Oxfordshire-based Prodrive led a consortium which bought the company from Ford in 2007. However, Ford maintained a 10% stake and the financing for the deal mainly came from US and Kuwaiti backers.

Last year, 37.5% was sold to an Italian private equity company.

Such is the way with big business today. A company from somewhere might be owned by another company from somewhere else, whose investors in turn come from all around the world.

It makes the question of ownership hard to pin down.

Last year, a survey conducted by the trade magazine The Grocer and the research firm Nielsen found that of the biggest 150 biggest grocery brands in the UK, just 44 are home-owned.

And of the 91 brands created in the UK, only 36 were still owned by British companies. The rest have been gobbled up by foreign multinationals and private equity groups.

This follows a series of high profile takeovers of famous British brands.

HP brown sauce was the inspiration of Frederick Gibson Garton, a Nottingham grocer in the late 19th Century.

It was so-called after he learned of it being consumed in the Houses of Parliament. In June 2005 the brand became part of the Heinz empire.

And to show what goes around comes around, Heinz itself was purchased earlier this year by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway and the Brazilian global investment fund 3G Capital.

Last year, the Chinese company Bright Foods took a controlling 60% stake in Weetabix Ltd, which also owned the Alpen and Ready-Brek brands.

Branston Pickle, of which 28 million jars are sold every year in the UK, was acquired by the Japanese firm Mizkan who, by the way, already owned Sarsons Vinegar and Hayward’s Pickled Onions.

Cadbury, founded in Birmingham in 1824, was bought by the American Kraft Foods in 2010. It was then spun off into Mondelez International – Kraft Group’s international snack and confectionary business.

Britain’s other large confectioner Rowntree Mackintosh, founded in York in 1862, had been bought by the Swiss conglomerate Nestle in 1988 only one year after becoming a public company.

In 2008, the alcoholic drinks company Scottish & Newcastle was jointly purchased by Heineken of The Netherlands and Carlsberg of Denmark.

Traditionally British brews such as Newcastle Brown Ale, John Smith’s Bitter and Strongbow Cider are now part of Heineken UK, so basically owned by the Dutch.

One of the clear trends is that international brands are becoming increasingly owned by a small number of very large conglomerates. For instance, Pepsico, the Coca-Cola Company, Kraft, Nestle, Mars, Procter & Gamble, and Unilever own a staggering number of the world’s most recognisable brands between them.

Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch conglomerate, owns over 400 brands by itself.

This goes to show that big business increasingly dominates the global landscape. But it is also the case that Britain has a number of its own global titans. When it comes to acquisitions involving British and foreign companies it is not just a one-way street.

Two way street
Guinness is synonymous with Dublin and Ireland. Smirnoff originated from a Moscow distillery in the 1860s and is now one of the best-selling brands of vodka around the world.

Both brands are owned by Diageo, one of the UK’s top 100 listed companies and headquartered in London.

The company also owns 34% of Moet Hennessy. This means that leading French champagne brands Moet & Chandon and Veuve Clicquot, as well as Hennessy cognac are a third owned by a British company.

Britain has plenty of big companies that have expanded aggressively around the world.

Vodafone is the second-largest mobile phone company in the world in terms of numbers of subscribers with a presence in over 70 countries.

Only China Mobile, with its large captive market, has more. The group has gobbled up plenty of its foreign rivals and often rebranded them as Vodafone along the way.

The largest acquisition was in 2000 when it bought the German company Mannesmann for £112bn.

At the time, this was the largest corporate merger in history and is still the largest by some considerable distance in UK corporate history.

The deal caused unrest in Germany as never before had such a large company been acquired by a foreign owner.

Further disquiet was caused when Vodafone reneged on a pre-merger deal to maintain the Mannesmann brand and rebranded the company Vodafone D2.

Tesco is the third largest retailer in the world after Wal-Mart and Carrefour.

It has as many outlets outside the UK as it does within it, with operations in 14 countries across Europe, Asia and North America. Tesco has already been in China, where it owns more than 100 stores, for more than a decade.

But Britain’s really big beasts are in oil and finance.

BP, formerly British Petroleum, started life as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company in 1909 to manage the empire’s oil discoveries in Iran.

It now has operations in over 80 countries and is the second largest producer of oil and natural gas in the US.

In 2008 it merged with Amoco and largely rebranded their US operations as their own.

Shell is an Anglo-Dutch company with operations in over 100 countries. According to the Fortune Global 500 list, which ranks firms in terms of revenue, it is the largest company in the world ahead of Wal-Mart.

Plus, British banks and insurance companies are massive players on the world stage.

Britain’s biggest bank is HSBC – the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation.

It is also the second largest bank in the world in terms of assets held only after the Chinese state-owned Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC).

It was founded in Hong Kong in 1865 as the British Empire expanded trade into China. It essentially became a British bank in the early 1990s.

The takeover of Midland Bank was conditional on it moving its headquarters to London – that was part of the calculus in any case as the handover of Hong Kong back to China loomed then.

However, it remains predominantly a global bank with subsidiaries and operations in more than 80 countries.

Standard Chartered is Britain’s fifth biggest bank.

It operates in more than 70 countries but has no retail business in the UK.

In fact, most British people would have never heard of the bank if it did not currently sponsor Liverpool football club.

This makes sense, given the popularity of the English Premier League in its key overseas markets with 90% of its profits coming from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

It is a good example of a British company with a stronger presence overseas than at home.

Family silver?
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) recently reported that more than half the shares in quoted UK companies are owned by foreign investors.

Ten years ago, only a third of the shares were foreign owned and 20 years ago the proportion was only 13%.

So why have British companies become increasingly attractive to overseas buyers?

Perhaps it because they are relatively easy to buy?

A higher proportion of companies are publicly listed so the shares can be bought and sold freely.

Furthermore, fewer British firms are controlled by family trusts than in the US and Europe.

These can form powerful controlling groups that make direct takeovers difficult if the family does not want to sell.

The British government rarely blocks deals even if there is a “strategic” argument for so doing.

The privatisation programmes starting in the 1980s made many utility and infrastructure companies public companies and left foreigners free to buy shares.

Four of the big six energy companies, including most of the nuclear industry, are foreign owned. The same goes for British seaports, airports and railways.

More recently the fall in the value of the pound has made British companies cheaper to acquire.

When foreigners buy shares in or takeover a British company, the profits and dividend payments are transferred overseas.

There is a suspicion that these earnings are enhanced by outsourcing jobs to cheaper parts of the world and re-routing profits through jurisdictions with lower tax rates.

Thus, there is a recent push for tax reform and the government wants to publish a roster of ownership.

However, foreign ownership may also bring benefits.

Research by the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics show that foreign-owned plants are, on average, more productive than domestically-owned establishments.

Multinationals can bring fresh ideas and expertise, such as new technologies and management practices. The same goes for British multinationals setting up in foreign countries.

The Spanish bank Santander already owned the Abbey National but there were few complaints in 2010 when it absorbed the Bradford & Bingley and the Alliance & Leicester building societies to become one of the largest UK retail banks.

At the time there was considerable relief it was prepared to use its balance sheet to avert two further potential Northern Rocks. Foreign investment is unsurprisingly welcomed when there is a need for cash.

In any case, Britain still owns far more direct investment assets overseas than vice versa. The ONS estimates that Britain currently has £1.1 trillion direct investment assets overseas, £300bn more than the rest of the world owns in the UK.

Britain also typically enjoys a surplus in investment income.

Since 2000, inflows of investment income have averaged 13.5% of GDP compared to outflows which have averaged 12.4% of GDP. This means each year Britain has received a net flow of investment income equal to 1.1% of GDP from the rest of the world.

It just goes to show that Britain has a long history of successfully buying other countries’ family silver.”

Are there any towels, facecloths and tea towels still made in the UK? Made in Britain Towels and Tea Towels

I am trying to find a flannel (facecloth, wash cloth) that is made in England and it is proving much harder than I expected.  Are there any flannels or towels still made in England or elsewhere in the UK that you know of please? Is anyone actually weaving, dyeing and finishing towels in the UK now? Sadly it seems to me that there are no longer any towel weaving mills left in the UK.

UK made tea towels are readily available and I would strongly encourage that you buy these British made tea towels in preference to foreign made ones. I list some British tea towels sellers and makers here.

Towels wise though, I can find nothing really.

Chortex make no mention of a UK factory on their website and they confirmed to me (on 31st March 2014) that their towels are no longer manufactured in the UK.

Christy towels are now made in India.

A vintage Christy Made in England floor towel (label detail). Sadly Christy have now moved all production abroad. Photograph by author.

A vintage Christy Made in England floor towel (label detail). Sadly Christy have now moved all production abroad. Photograph by author.

Ashtons were another well known towel maker, with 2 cotton mills in England. Taken over by Courtaulds in 1968 the company now appear to have closed.

A vintage Ashtons Zorbit Princess pure cotton hand towel. Made in the UK lable detail (front of label). Photograph by author.

A vintage Ashtons Zorbit Princess pure cotton hand towel. Made in the UK. Label detail (front of label). Photograph by author.

A vintage Ashtons Zorbit Princess pure cotton hand towel. Made in the UK. Label detail (rear of label). Photograph by author.

A vintage Ashtons Zorbit Princess pure cotton hand towel. Made in the UK. Label detail (rear of label). Photograph by author.

Marks and Spencer used to sell very good quality English made towels. A very few made in the UK items are for sale in Marks and Spencer these days, although that said Marks and Spencer food halls still have lots of great British made foods to choose from. Sadly, since Marks and Spencer decided in 1999 to move all their manufacturing to suppliers abroad, resulting in near devastation amongst British manufacturers particularly in the clothing industry, there are no UK made towels in M&S and few other UK made goods.

A vintage St Michael by Marks and Spencer Made in the UK cotton extra large blue bath sheet (towel). This is a very large towel indeed. Photograph by author 8 September 2017. Label detail.

A vintage St Michael by Marks and Spencer Made in the UK cotton extra large pink bath sheet (towel). Photograph by author 8 September 2017. Label detail.

Tonder and Tonder have a English made soap bar that comes with a facecloth.  At the top of their website it says “Made in England”. I was told at one point that the towels Tonder and Tonder sell were made in Turkey not England but they currently (20/11/18) have no towels available and I am told the facecloth that comes with this soap was made in Lancashire by a company no longer in business. Tonder and Tonder have an excellent range of bedlinen, ceramics, tablelinen and accessories that are made in England –

With Nature Skincare make these muslin face cloths in the UK – These are also available on Amazon –

Bamboo Textiles Ltd make bath towels, bath sheets, baby towels, flannels (facecloths), baby robes, wash mits, gym towels, and make-up removal towels in the UK; as well as bed linen and baby bed linen. Many of their products are made in the UK (made in the UK products are labelled as such on their website; other foreign made products do not state county of origin) –

Bareskin Beauty say their Bamboo Bath Sheet is made in England. I do not know about the country of origin of their other products but I could not see any indication they were British made from their website –

Mine! London sell a nice range of off-the-shelf or bespoke small fleece blankets, cotton towels, cotton face clothes (flannels), cotton baby bibs, and fleece scarves. All the items they sell are labelled on their website as being British made. No information about the method or place of production is given. Items are described as hand-made. Their website features the Made in Britain logo –

Lancashire Textiles in Burnley seem to suggest on their website that all their Pillows, Mattress Protectors, Mattress Toppers, Towels, Home Accessories, Cushions, Pet Bedding, Bed Linens & Baby Bedding are UK made. I have emailed them to check this is the case (I’ve had no response though!) but I suspect it is only their bedding that is made in the UK and not their towels. Items made in Great Britain are clearly flagged with the Made in Britain logo; other products are foreign made. UK made products from Lancashire Textiles include some of their duvets, pillows, shaped pillows (such as v-shaped pillows), anti-allergy pillows, pillow protectors, some mattress protectors, a limited amount of their bedding, the Cavenagh of London ties they sell, some cushions, some cushion inners, some support cushions, their seat pads, some pet bedding, and their bean bags. Look for the Made in Britain logo on the Lancashire Textiles website; they have a good range of Britain made products and they have their own mill in Lancashire. Products are available directly from their website. During the COVID-19 pandemic they have diverted some production to face masks and wipe-clean pillows –

Jane Hamerton towels are personalised in England, but the actual towels themselves are foreign made –

Fired Earth

An old Fired Earth floor made in England floor towel, front of label detail. Photograph by author. Sadly this company no longer have their towels made in the UK.

An old Fired Earth floor made in England floor towel, front of label detail. Photograph by author. Sadly this company no longer have their towels made in the UK.

An old Fired Earth floor made in England floor towel, rear of label detail. Photograph by author. Sadly this company no longer have their towels made in the UK.

An old Fired Earth floor made in England floor towel, rear of label detail. Photograph by author. Sadly this company no longer have their towels made in the UK.

Stamford Cuemakers Cue Towels are made in England from 100% cotton according to their website. Available on their website and also on eBay. Cue towels are for snooker / pool and are ideal for wiping down your cue when it gets a bit sticky and might be good for the gym too. Their cues and cue cases are also made in England –

Lancashire Towel Co Ltd (aka the East Lancashire Towel Company) clearly label some of their products on their website as British made and it says on their website that they have (it should say had actually) their own mill. The mill is shown on their website as being in Barrowford Lancashire, whereas their address is given as Nelson, Lancashire.  According to wikipedia the mill in Barrowford Lancashire is now closed and production has been moved abroad. Stocks are limited and this is because these are old stock being sold off after the factory closure in 2009, as the company has told me. They made towels including bathroom towels, kitchen hand towels, in linen / cotton, and cotton, plus roller towel holders but these days production is sadly in Turkey –

Bags of love sell towels that you can have printed with photo but I doubt if the towels themselves are made in the UK. Just printed in the UK.

Fergusons Irish Linen have a factory in Banbridge, County Down, Northern Ireland. Since 1988 they have been part of Franklin’s who also own Brownlow Textiles Ltd (now just a brand name of Thomas Ferguson & Co. Ltd. ) and John England. Thomas Ferguson & Co. Ltd don’t make country of origin clear on their website but according to Sir Gordon Bennett their tea towels they sell are made in Northern Ireland. As well as tea towels Fergusons also make table linen, bed linen, towels, handkerchiefs, throws and suchlike but it is not clear from their website whether these are British made or made abroad. Franklins is a weaver of badges and labels, supplying the sports, industrial, fashion, career wear and promotional markets, sharing the Fergusons factory in Northern Ireland. No clear information about country of origin is given on the Franklins website. I assume their other factories in Banbridge, Coventry, and Nuneaton have been closed, especially as much production appears to have moved to what Franklins refer to as ‘off-shore manufacturers’ although they do say on their website that “Franklins embroider in our factory in Banbridge” they also talk about outsourcing and overseas suppliers. John England supply fabrics by the metre for the fashion and apparel, curtain, upholstery, theatrical linens, and film productions markets, but again no information is given about country of origin on their website – https://www.fergusonsirishlinen.com

The Gaddum Group (Gaddum & Gaddum) produce at least some beauty uniforms (their Tempus range) in-house in England and otherwise they add logos to imported clothing and import silks from China. Their towels and robes are foreign made as far as I can gather from their website. Gaddum and Gaddum have a factory in Leek, Staffordshire and manufacture clothing there for others, for example Hugget ladies jackets are made by Gaddum and Gaddum in England –

Bard and Brazier towel rails are made in England –

Rutland Radiators heated towel rails are British made –

The Beach Towel Clip‘ by JDM Designs Ltd is a polypropylene beach accessory that simply pushes into the sand to stop your beach towel blowing away and is British made. The beach towel clips are manufactured at Form mould & tooling in Haverhill Suffolk UK. The beach towel clips are manufactured 100% in the Suffolk, UK. The cartons are manufactured in Glossop, UK, The assembly and distribution of the beach towel clips is done in the North West of England. On their twitter its says “The official account for the multi award winning 100% UK designed & manufactured beach accessory that stops your towel blowing away.” –