Hornsea Pottery was created in 1949 by two brothers named Desmond and Colin Rawson, with the help of funding from a local businessman named Philip Clappison. The company began with Plaster of Paris giftware for sale in Hornsea on the East Yorkshire coast. The original such product was a Toby Jug. By 1954 the company was already registered, had a factory and a staff of 64, which grew to 250 by 1974.
Some of the earliest pieces created by the company were designed by Colin Rawson, and since those sold very well the Hornsea Pottery chose to move to larger premises and hire more staff. In the middle of the 1950s, the Hornsea pottery business became a lot more diverse. They started offering factory tours, as well as a variety of activities for kids and families that visited the premises. They had a birds of prey exhibition, a car museum, adventure playground in the form of a fort, go-kart experiences and visitor cafés. It was quite an interesting opportunity and a unique approach that they brought to the table at that particular time.
Hornsea Pottery has always been best known for its tableware; their products selling worldwide for around 20 years. At one point, they had a very high demand and were barely able to keep up with the requirements, so much so that orders were limited on a per quota basis.
They opened a second factory in Lancaster in 1974. However, the company floundered in 1984, and they were bought out. Despite this, they continued to create tableware and various types of ornaments until sadly going into receivership in April 2000, when the business closed for good.
It is believed that a significant cause of the failure was their desire to support too many employees, rather than let them go. In 1981 they had a peak of 700 employees! The Lancaster plant had production losses, and they had to change the management team. After dissolution, a few of the staff and managers relocated to the Park Rose pottery, and they sold products to Ikea.
Even after Hornsea Pottery was finally shut down in 2000, these high-quality tableware pieces or at least the remaining ones were sold all over the world. Now you can visit the Hornsea Museum in Newbegin, Hornsea. Here you can find 2000 pieces from the pottery’s humble beginnings and right up until the end. There are some discontinued Hornsea models that you just can’t find anywhere else in the world. In 2015 all the intellectual property rights of the company were transferred to Culturenik Publishing Inc.
As a result, we can expect some of the designs to be digitized and re-issued appropriately according to modern requirements. It’s great that the Hornsea has the potential to move on, but it’s sad that the company had to go through such an unfortunate set of events until it reached that point. It’s still rewarding to know that Hornsea Pottery and their tableware lives on, even with a new approach and digitized models, and of course with the discontinued replacements you can find here at MrPottery.co.uk.
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