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.
Know your Back-Stamps:
- Porcelain: Royal Doulton has been around since 1815, but manufacturing was moved to the far east from 2002 and had ceased production in the UK entirely by 2004. It was acquired by Waterford Wedgwood along with Royal Albert and met the same fate in early 2009.
- Stoneware: “The Chatsford teapot system was originally designed and patented by The London Teapot Company. Their unique method of incorporating a large nylon mesh infuser within the Chatsford teapot continues to make the Chatsford one of the best teapots for preparing loose leaf teas. […] Originally produced in England, the London Teapot Company currently manufactures their product in Thailand.”
- Porcelain: Royal Worcester is believe to be the oldest or second oldest porcelain brand and has been around since 1751. It merged with Spode in 1976 and went into administration in mid-2009 and its brand, but not the factory, were acquired by the Portmeirion Pottery group. Today, decorating and finishing is still done in England at the Portmeirion factory in Stoke-on-Trent, but the actually pottery is made in China.
- Watches: The Anglo-Celtic Watch Co. Ltd near Swansea in Wales was the largest in Europe at the time of its opening in 1947. It produced a variety of pocket and wrist watches under the Ingersoll and Smiths brand names, with Smiths catering more for the lower market until its closure in 1980.
British low- to mid-range manufacturers:
- Pottery: If you are after a traditional teapot, then the Brown Betty shape made from Stoke-on-Trent clay and finished in the rich, glossy, brown Rockingham glaze is the best that you can get. The local clay is famous for its retention of heat, which helps the infusion process and the wide round shape is supposed to create a swirling action, also known as the ‘agony of the leaves’, to get the best out of your brew. The shape came into vogue around the start of the 19th century and has since become a British icon. The trademark glaze dates back to 1757 when it was first produced by Swinton Potteries until its closure in 1842. Cauldon Ceramics are now the only producers of what can be called the ‘original’ Brown Betty teapot and have been based in Stoke-on-Trent since they began in 1920. They have a very no-frills website and even provide certification by their glaze suppliers Endeka Ceramics that their glazes are safe and lead free.
- Porcelain: Duchess China is another company based in Stoke-on-Trent and it was established in 1888; however, the name has been acquired by two other companies prior to Grimwades Limited, who themselves produce Royal Winton, so their current incarnation is actually from around 2000.
- Porcelain: Heron Cross Pottery was built around 1876 and was purchased by Grimwades Limited around the turn of the century, but was requisitioned by the government for other uses during the war. It was not until 1961 that it was acquired by its current owners, the Ridge family, and it has since been run as a family business selling earthenware.
- Stoneware: Big Tomato Company has been around since 2003 and it is also centred in the Stoke-on-Trent area. With its contemporary designs and slogan approach to stoneware, it is popular among those looking for modern styles and has gained recognition for its excellence in online retailing.
- Pottery: Aston Pottery was founded in 1990 by Jane and Stephen Baughan and it is one of the few potteries outside of Stoke-on-Trent; as the name suggest, it is based in Aston, in Oxfordshire. The site now accommodates 25 artisans, who produce over 120 patterns on 45 shapes of kitchen, gift and tableware.
- Pottery: The Old Sun Pottery is a small pottery that was established in Lincolnshire in 1980. It retails online and via the Etsy marketplace.
- Watches: RLT Watch Co. was opened by Roy L. Taylor in 1987 as a repair shop and has since transferred over exclusively to the online retail industry since 2001. Although Swiss and Japanese movements are at the core of all his products, all watches are assembled in the East Yorkshire premises. They also sell foreign made watches. Mr Taylor is also the provider of The Watch Forum, a forum dedicated to watch enthusiasts, and a popular reseller of old stock Smiths pocket watches from The Anglo-Celtic Watch Co. Ltd in new condition.
- Fashion: Mrs Bow Tie is a Hampshire-based maker of – you guessed it – bow ties. They have a selection of ready-tied and self-tie adjustable ties, and a range of styles and colours including a section for novelty bow ties, where you can find tributes to those worn by Matt Smith as the eleventh Doctor Who. The company also provides a range of neck ties, pocket squares and – interestingly enough – dog collars. The brand is owned by Threadster Limited who also own REQ’D and The Grooms Company.
- Torches: Cluson’s iconic handheld Clulite torch and its range of lights for hunting are still popular among the agricultural community. There are few companies that still manufacture in the UK. Lummi appears to be a small UK company run by Robert Cheetham, but it is known for being expensive and for its poor customer service.
- Clothing: Lochcarron is a Scottish fabrics and accessories manufacturer in the Scottish Border towns of Selkirk, Hawick and Langholm. Their history dates back to 1892 and they weave tartan, knitwear and tweed clothing from natural fibres.
- Torches: The handheld torch and high-powered flashlight market is notoriously dominated by manufacturing in the far east with most UK companies being re-branders. The list includes Uni-Lite (made in South Korea), Nightsearcher (made in China), Freeplay (made in China), Tactical Jack (made in China).
Eveready Batteries, torches and bicycle lamps:
- On a similar note, battery manufacturers Eveready South Africa are still making batteries in South Africa, whereas the last Eveready UK factory closed in 1996 after the company went back to American ownership. Eveready USA are still making batteries in the USA, as well as in other countries (just not the UK!). Eveready Industries India, Ltd (EIIL) (previously known as Union Carbide India, Limited) are still making Eveready batteries in India (only sold in India; using the name under licence from Eveready USA). Eveready East Africa are a subsidiary of Eveready USA and make batteries in Kenya.