The History of Royal Worcester

Posted by Mike Eley on

Royal Worcester, a revered porcelain company, was created in 1751 by Doctor John Wall and a group of local businessmen. One of their first product lines was the Worcester porcelain, painted in blue under the glaze. Soon Robert Hancock arrived at Royal Worcester, and he started to apply print transfers onto porcelain. That was a huge deal at the time, and it helped the business take off swiftly.

Royal Worcester Tableware

In fact, Royal Worcester grew so much that in 1770 they made one of the first Royal dinner services for the Duke of Gloucester at that time. Even when the founder retired in 1774, his partners continued to manufacture dinnerware and china until Thomas Flight took over. In 1789 Worcester received the Royal Warrant for the quality of their wares, and so “Royal” was added to the name.

Around 1840 the manufacture was consolidated on the current factory site, and they continued to modernise the site from 1862 and onward. In fact, the Worcester Royal Porcelain Company Limited was the product of this modernisation. Around 1900, the company created a new material which they named Parian. This was very important, specifically for figure making. But they also incorporated it in dinnerware among some of the other products. That material was revolutionary, as it was very easy to manoeuvre and adapt based on what project they had in mind.

During the 20th century Royal Worcester started to become very popular in the US. However, US sales became such a significant part of their income that the Wall Street Crash of 1929 was a bit problem for the company, and Royal Worcester barely escaped closure in the years to come.

Royal Worcester Worcester Herbs  Royal Worcester Beaufort (Rust)

However, they continued to grow and evolve as much as they could while also trying to offer customers the best possible service out there. In more recent years Royal Worcester invited the Queen to their factory recently for their 250th anniversary. They even struck a deal with Jamie Oliver, a popular celebrity chef in order to create dinnerware and cookware with his name on it.

The Royal Worcester business went into administration in November 2008. While the Worcester and Spode factories were closed, the brand and intellectual property were acquired by the Portmeirion Potteries Group.

Royal Worcester Evesham Gold  Royal Worcester Gold Chantilly

While you can visit the Museum to see some of the older China and dinnerware pieces, you will find that Royal Worcester is still one of the more interesting and distinctive pottery brands in the UK. Its name is synonymous with the industry.

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