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A Passion For Pottery

Aug 18, 2007
200 Years ago, a man named William Bourne founded a company that unbeknown to him would go on to become a household name. His story started in a small town in Derbyshire in the early 1800s, William Bourne discovered clay, not just ordinary clay but clay of amazing quality that would change the way pottery was viewed forever.

From this clay William Bourne made exceptional quality salt glazed pottery, Production of bottle and jars started in 1809 and the baton handed to his younger son Joseph Bourne to run the company. These products were manufactured under the brand of Joseph Bourne and became very popular for medicines, polish, ink, jams and preserves even ginger beer! Today the company is known as Denby Pottery.

From Small beginnings in a Derbyshire Industrial Town, limited Pottery production began. Joseph Bourne nurtured his fathers company, moulding it to ensure it would stand the test of time, establishing a profitable family asset to pass down through the generations to follow.

As times changed the need for pottery products changed too. No longer would bottles and jars be enough to sustain the need for production, in order to survive a new direction was required which would fill a far greater need, Kitchenware.

Brightly coloured glazes were developed to replace the original shiny brown finish previously achieved with the original salt glaze, this in turn made kitchenware products far more appealing. In the early 1920s an opportunity to diversify again was identified paving the way for the manufacture of Giftware products utilizing the new and very popular glazes. Production now included such pottery products as vases, tobacco jars and decorative bowls which were branded as Danesby Pottery, as well still continuing to produce the ever growing range of kitchenware.

Post wartime arrived and yet more changes were on the horizon, the demand for giftware had lessened, thus returning the focus of production back to tableware. Cups, Saucers and tea plates had now been introduced to the product ranges. Teams of designers were now employed in order to keep the identity of products fresh and appealing in a growing competitive market.

The 1970s brought about a new age of convenience, where less was more, hence the introduction of oven-to-tableware, pottery that could withstand cooking temperatures without breaking but also be attractive enough to place on the table as a serving dish. Yet another four pottery ranges were designed and introduced during this decade, each proving to be a success.

The 80s saw an era of casual dining, people wanting to entertain guests at home, a dining set was now needed to cater for both formal entertaining such as dinner parties but be just as usable for informal get togethers such as family meals. Regency Green and Imperial blue ranges were created and appeared yet again to fill this void.

As times progressed and lifestyles changed many alterations have been made to the original pottery concept, each having to been made in order for products to evolve with the times. Requirements of tableware in turn have changed dramatically in just the last 30 years. Nowadays people buy dinnerware and tableware to match the decor of the dining area or kitchen, similar to buying a fashion accessory such as choosing the curtains for the lounge or quilt set to match the bedroom.

Kitchen appliances have been created for convenience such as dishwashers and microwaves, bringing yet more need for change, the production of dishwasher and microwave safe dining ware had to be created, this not being as simple as just changing design, the whole composition of the materials used in manufacture had to be altered.

Above all, dining today is far more varied than it was even 30 years ago, enjoying a diverse range of continental, Asian and Oriental cuisine. This saw the introduction of pasta bowls, noodle bowls, dipping bowls to gourmet plates, right down to the introduction of espresso coffee cups.

All in all from those small beginnings in Derbyshire, creating raw and basic pottery bottles and jars, the dream of one man William Bourne evolved to become a household name and a part of British heritage.
About the Author
Shaun Parker explores the history of Britains pottery heritage as he follows the evolution of one of the UKs best loved tableware and cookware manufacturers. For more information, please visit http://www.denby.co.uk
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