An iconic British design, Cornishware which has been supporting Britain’s cooks, bakers and tea makers for nearly 100 years will once again be manufactured on British shores.
British pottery brand Cornishware is returning all of its manufacturing to the UK from overseas and has invested £300,000 expanding its Shepton Mallet site in Somerset.
The revived firm expects to increase output by 15% this year.
Cornishwear is manufactured by T.G. Green which was founded by Thomas Goodwin Green back in 1864. Rumour has it that he bought up an existing pottery factory while he was on his honeymoon with his new wife, Mary Tenniel who was actually the sister of Sir John, Tenniel, illustrator of Punch and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
One of the company’s most popular lines was always Cornishware, which was first produced in 1924.
It was created using a nifty lathe-turning technique that scraped blue slip away from its beautiful ceramics to reveal white bands of clay beneath. Those stripes reminded an employee of the blue skies and white-crested waves of Cornwall – which is how Cornishware got its name.
The appearance of those familiar blue and white stripes in children’s books, adverts, fashion magazines, collectors’ websites and homes all over the world is testament to Cornishware’s timeless design and enduring popularity.
From plates to cups to storage jars, Cornishware was such a roaring success that it soon became a household name, adorning dinner tables up and down the country.
In the 1960s, Cornishware’s look was updated by talented young designer, Judith Onions, and the restyled range was embraced as warmly as the originals. Over the past 20 years Onions’ designs, as well as the older ranges, have become highly prized by collectors, commanding ever-increasing prices.
Sadly, the story didn’t go as well for T.G.Green. As time went on, it became increasingly difficult for the Victorian pottery workshop to compete with modern industry. After a series of different owners tried their best the save the business but the company went into financial administration in 2007.
Production joint ventures with other UK ceramic manufacturers were sought to save the company but at a time when most UK producers were moving some or all of their production abroad to fend off stiff pricing competition from low wage economies overseas. In 2009, reluctantly, the new team started production abroad in attempt to secure supply but remained committed to bringing production back to the UK.
Luckily, T.G.Green and Cornishware had fans in all the right places. Lifelong enthusiasts, Charles Rickards and Paul Burston, teamed up with designer and brand consultant, Perry Haydn Taylor, to come to the rescue.
The first Lockdown in 2020/21 brought its challenges and after a short period of closing the pottery, it reopened after 10 days running two shifts to facilitate social distancing guidelines. The future seemed very uncertain with many of their retailers closed for an undefined period. However, increased activity on social media drove online sales to new records and the business struggled with demand throughout the whole Covid era as the business doubled in size.
Thanks to their expertise, those wonderful stripes have been restored to their rightful position, and they are now thrilled to be gradually bringing production back to the UK with plates and bowls being hand decorated in the West Country.
Several lines are now made in Stoke-on-Trent and decorated in their pottery in the West Country by a team of very steady hands, and they are gradually increasing the items they make in England. Look out for the green back-stamps that denote the new Made in England products.
In 2022 the business will be opening a new slip casting unit which is currently under construction which will produce all greenware items such as Teapots and Storage Jars on site which are currently made by Royal Stafford in Stoke on Trent.
Most of the products sold are now made on their new site in the South West of England where the business now employs 27 very talented and committed people and led by Charles Rickards and his daughter Rebecca.
Charles and Rebecca Rickards have recently featured on It Runs In The Family Podcast where the story of Cornishware is told in great detail.
Listen listen to podcast here.
Source and photo credits: Cornishware / T.G. Green