Branching out into Pottery; under the Hammer

Article excerpt

Byline: by John Crane of Cato Crane

EVERYBODY has heard of Pilkington glass. Most people know something of its history and a large number of people have visited its museum.

But did you know that Pilkington was also responsible for the production of Royal Lancastrian Pottery?

It happened almost by accident. Pilkington owned a coal company that sank a couple of exploratory mine shafts. Coal was not found on that occasion, but the company did find a rich seam of red marl or clay.

Never ones to waste an opportunity, the Pilkington Tile and Pottery Company was founded.

A site was chosen at Clifton Junction, conveniently near to the rail network and to the canal, and by 1893 it was up and running. Tiles were manufactured first, followed by pots.

Fortunately a young chemist, William Burton, who had been employed by Josiah Wedgwood and Sons, came to work for Pilkington and, together with his brother Joseph, experimented with and developed new and exciting ways of glazing the pots.

The company was soon able to attract well-respected designers such as Walter Crane, Voysey and John Chambers. John Chambers's designs had a marked Persian influence and were in fact used to line walls on board the Titanic and other liners. …