British art pottery manufacturer
William Moorcroft started Moorcroft, a British art pottery manufacturer, in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, in 1913.
James Macintyre & Co. Ltd, a Staffordshire pottery producer, hired 24-year-old William Moorcroft as a designer in 1897. Within a year, he was given complete control of the company’s art pottery workshop. Moorcroft’s first creative line of pottery, Florian Ware, was a huge hit and earned him a gold medal at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. He signed his name or initials on practically all of the ceramics he designed and personally oversaw, which was unusual at the time. The extent to which Macintyre’s success had overshadowed his other manufacturing endeavours eventually caused resentment among his employers, culminating in their decision to wind down his studio in 1912. He subsequently started his own business. The production of his pottery was moved to an entirely new facility near the following year.
In addition to its famous tube lined, hand-painted art pottery, the Moorcroft plant manufactured a wide range of reasonably priced domestic tableware. Queen Mary, a devoted collector of Moorcroft’s works, bestowed a royal warrant on him in 1928, enhancing his popularity. Walter Moorcroft, William’s oldest son, took over the business shortly before his father’s death in 1945 and continued to develop it. In 1946, the company’s royal warrant was renewed in his name.
The company had been supported in partnership with the famed London retailer, Liberty, during its founding and leadership under Walter Moorcroft. In 1962, Moorcroft purchased the Liberty store’s shareholding.
Rising fuel and labour costs put Moorcroft’s very labour-intensive techniques out of business. To mass-produce Moorcroft pottery, a portion of the company was sold to Roper Brothers in 1984. Roper Brothers’ portion was resold to Hugh Edwards and Richard Dennis in 1986 after this attempt failed. Dennis and his wife, Sally Tuffin, a ceramics designer, left the company in 1992, leaving the Edwards family as sole owners (remaining so in 2008).
Walter Moorcroft stepped down as director of design in 1987. Still, he continued to contribute until the debut of his final design, ‘Rock of Ages,’ in 1999. Rachel Bishop, at 24 years old, joined the company as a senior designer in 1993. In 1997, Moorcroft celebrated its centennial by claiming the founding of the Macintyre studio under William Moorcroft in 1897 as its founding year. In 1998, it opened a new Moorcroft Design Studio and hired additional designers to expand its product line.
William Moorcroft designed the Aurelian Ware collection of high-Victorian ceramics for Macintyre’s early career, which featured transfer-printed and enamelled decoration in solid red, blue, and gold colours. His art nouveau-influenced Florian Ware, which was introduced shortly after, was hand-painted. The design was delineated in trailing slip using a process known as tube lining. Since then, practically all of Moorcroft’s art pottery has employed this approach to distinguish it from mass-produced pottery. Both the father and the son experimented with high-temperature flambé techniques, which resulted in high glazing with bright colour.
Later, Walter Moorcroft designs exhibit the more straightforward aesthetic that was popular at the time. Patterns from the Moorcroft Design Studio show strong inspirations from William Moorcroft’s early days and modern breakthroughs in colouration techniques. They usually display plates, vases, pin dishes, lamp bases, and jars of various shapes and sizes. They are aimed towards the luxury end of the collector and gift markets.
Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.
Wikipedia contributors. (2021, February 19). Moorcroft. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 23:24, May 30, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Moorcroft&oldid=1007778589
You may also be interested in
Walter Crane (1845 – 1915) was a British designer, artist and writer. He was the son of portrait painter Thomas Crane and was born in Liverpool. Between 1859 and 1862, he worked as an apprentice with London woodcarver William J. Linton. By 1863, he had started a long partnership with Edmund Evans, a publisher and printer (1826-1906).
Breakfast in an American middle-class home in the 1940s was often served on dishes designed by English designer Susie Cooper (1902-1995). She studied under Gordon M. Forsyth at the Burslem School of Art from 1918 to 1922. Cooper began working as a designer for A. E. Gray & Company in 1922.
A leading development in the world of craft and design that took some time to arrive is the pottery wheel. The wheels of early potters were more like ‘Lazy Susans’ or ‘Turntables’ that were spun by hand to make it easier to make a pot.