Happy Wade-ing

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©1956 British Potters and Pottery Today

Among the factories in Burslem producing high grade earthenware that of Wade, Heath and Co., Ltd., of the Royal Victoria Pottery, is by no means the least in repute. It is one of three works in the High Street area which (since 1935) comprise the Wade group and its productions include fancy, ornamental and domestic table ware.

For at least a century and a half there has been a factory upon the spot, the earliest occupants, judging by certain dated shards unearthed upon the site, having been John and Richard Riley in the year 1814. It was then known as Hill Works and had been founded in that year, for the name and date are still to be seen over the old archway of the factory. After them came Samuel Alcock and Co. This was in 1830; and later Dunn and Bennett occupied the premises from 1888 until 1838. They were then taken over by Wade, Heath and Co., Ltd.

This firm was founded towards the end of the eighteenth century and had occupied Flaxman's Tile Works (still in the hands of Wades), but was only formed into a limited liability company in 1927.

At the time when the firm took over the Royal Victoria Pottery they were chiefly occupied in making teapots, vases, flower jugs and 'fancies', but, during the War period tea and dinner wares were added, as well as heavy white ware for the forces. In the ensuing period, when the export drive was concentrated upon, opportunity was yet found to develop an important line of small animal and nursery-rhyme figures, Toby-jugs, etc. They also acquired a reputation for their copper lustre wares. The most popular of their nursery series is perhaps the 'Quack-quack' set and among the ornamental ware 'Empress' ware ranks highly.

Since 1945 a programme of modernisation has been inaugurated, including the all-important decorating shop, a new enamel kiln, a continuous glost oven and new dipping shops. These were already completed by 1951 and have been followed by still further improvements, until, at the present day, the factory is equipped in a fashion well able to cope with its ever-increasing output.

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