Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Field Trip to the Potteries

It was time for a field trip, so we started our day walking to the tube at daybreak, hopped on with the morning commuters to the train station, and off we went by train for a 2 hour trip to Stoke on Trent, in the Staffordshire area of England, where we then hired a taxi for the day. This area, known through recent time as the home of the pottery industry, today still boasts quite a few working potteries, and where there are potteries, there are factory shops with bargains to be found. I had made this trip a dozen years ago, when the economy was stronger and all the big names, Wedgewood, Royal Doulton, Royal Albert, Minton, Spode and Portmeirion had very active factories and shops. Alas, today many of the factories have closed or been bought by other groups, so although there are not as many shopping options as in previous years, it's still fun to see what you can find at the "seconds" shops. 
Stoke on Trent became the center of ceramic production in the 17th century because of the availability in the area of clay, salt, lead and coal--all necessary ingredients in production.

We started our day at the Burleigh factory--probably best known for its blue floral prints. Burleigh claims to be the last working Victorian pottery in England. It has been using the 200 year old decorating process of underglaze transfer printing for over 150 years.

Since its foundation in 1851, they have been using this labor intensive method.

I fell in love with the whimsical red prints last year when I was there,

when I picked up one of their cow creamers, a few bowls and a serving platter. This time, I picked up a another serving platter in the check print seen on the left to go with my floral print platter. Most of the pottery is still pricey, even though they are seconds, due to this specific hand decorating process. I did find a couple of small Christmas dessert plates for 50 pence that they had made for Williams Sonoma.

Maybe the pink pattern catches your fancy,

or the very unique purple. Other popular colors are black, brown, and

green. What would you be your favorite? They are so fun to mix and match, as you will see if you take a peek at their lovely website.

Be watching for the next post which was also focus on another fun pottery line.


  1. Bonjour Debi:- this sounds like a great day out visiting the potteries in that lovely area of England.
    I love the pink china but would I part with my money for it? maybe not - I would probably go for the more traditional blue. The red is divine but wouldn't match my colour scheme.
    I'm looking forward to your next post.

  2. Hi Debi

    A very interesting post. I have been to that area before, as I used to do a lot of ceramic making myself. I am sure it is pricey but sometimes worth it. I think I would go for the red , I don't have a colour scheme :-)

    Yes it is a huge shame that the factories closed down , and I don't hear of many people going to Stoke for a trip these days. take care Anne

  3. Yeah! I love these tours. These are just fantastic! What a treat for the eyes!

  4. How lovely. I love the red...and the blue. It would be hard to choose but I am sure the prices would keep me at bay. Thanks for the delightful tour.

  5. Beautiful pottery. I want to visit and buy a large set of everything. Sigh.

  6. I would love the blue,red or green but they are all gorgeous! xxoo :)

  7. Purple, I do not remember seeing dishes that were just purple. They are all lovely, and if I were shopping I would have difficulty choosing a pattern or color. It is disheartening to see the old arts die out.

  8. oh! i don't now how i would ever choose. how
    about one of each?

  9. Took some time today to catch up on your blog...lovely, as always.


  10. Salut Debi, those are fantastic, really beautiful, but I would probably have to leave my purse at home - or go home completely broke... The green one would be top of my list, it's beautiful! Love from London x

  11. When I visited England in '97 I bought a blue and white Burleigh tea set partly because I really liked the name ... Burley was a nickname of Hal's in college. It doesn't match my new kitchen colors now so I have it stashed away in my green cabinet. Your post makes want to find a place for it somewhere in my house. i didn't know about the special processing. Lovely post, as always, friend!

  12. Just love these tours, Debi. The pinks would work in my white kitchen but I'd be temped to do the house over to use all the purple – gorgeous!

  13. Oh, dear. Pretty Dishes=Terrible Weakness...

  14. Of course the red immediately caught my eye, until I saw the purple. So pretty.