Histories of UK potters and pottery manufacturers

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© Michael Perry 2011. Contact

Image courtesy of Lema Publishing Ltd, publishers of ‘Tableware International’ www.tablewareinternational.com

Last updated: 1st August 2011


Joseph Bourne & Son (Ltd) and its successors produced domestic and ornamental stoneware over a period of some 200 years and in the 20th century, the pottery has been well known for its kitchenware, ornamental ware, art pottery and tableware.

Over the course of its life the Denby business has produced a vast array of useful and decorative wares including, but not limited to the categories listed here:

Bottles, jars, flasks, bowls, vases, jugs, candle sticks, money boxes, loving cups, tygs, ginger beer bottles, pharmacy wares, snuff jars, tobacco jars, ash trays, spill vases, owl jugs, water filters, agricultural pottery, bulb bowls and other garden ware, headstones, funary urns, butter churns, milk churns, commemorative wares, teapots (including the Nevva-drip), coffee pots, tea and coffee ware, table accessories (cruets, butter dishes, knapkin rings, etc), tableware, lamp bases, book ends, kitchenware (jugs, bowls, strainers, jelly moulds, spoon rests, containers, stewpots, marmites, casserols, etc), toilet sets, puzzle jugs, character jugs, animal feeding bowls, spittoons, jardineres and stands, how water bottles, footwarmers, animal models, wall pockets, flower holders, wall plaques, and so on. Many of these could constitute collections in their own right.

The business continued throughout the Second World War and, from the 1950s, became an important producer of tableware and giftware in addition to the ornamental and art pottery associated with the well known designers Albert and Glyn Colledge. Numerous trade names have been associated with the Denby  business including Danesby Ware, Tigo Ware, Glyn Ware, and Glynbourne Ware used on the now highly collectible ornamental wares.

Early salt-glazed ware

The clay beds exploited by William and Joseph Bourne produced a vitreous stoneware that was highly suited to the manufacture of containers for liquids, and flagons, bottles and jars of all sorts, finished with a salt-glaze, were important products together with other utilitarian stoneware for the rural community.

Danesby Ware

The Danesby Ware name was introduced in about 1924 and the ‘Danesby Ware’ mark was applied to most of the ornamental stoneware that had come to dominate the pottery’s output. Shapes tended to be simple, either thrown or slip-cast, often with surface relief decoration and covered in a monochrome glaze. Vases, jugs, jardiniers and stands, owl jugs and a host of other ornamental wares*- were produced under the Danesby range up until at least the Second World War. ‘Electric Blue’ ware, decorated with a streaky, high-gloss blue glaze is one of the most recognizable and collectible ranges of Danesby Ware. It was manufactured up to at least the mid-1930s.

Art Deco wares

Bourne were followers rather than leaders of the art deco style, however, mainly existing shapes were decorated with the hand-painted abstract floral patterns typical of the British art-deco period.

Glyn Ware and Glynbourne Ware

Glyn Ware displaced Danesby Ware as the trade name for Denby’s hand-painted decorative stoneware in the 1950s. Glyn Colledge was the designer and most of the patterns were collages of foliage and floral motifs painted in pastel colours under a semi-matte glaze. The early Glyn Ware bears a ‘Glyn’ signature, often barely decipherable, but lacks a Denby backstamp, allowing the ware to qualify as purchase-tax exempt. Other Glyn Ware patterns include hunting scenes, and other rural activities painted in naïve style.

Glynbourne Ware was introduced in the early-1960s and whilst continuing the botanical inspiration and muted palette of the early Glyn Ware, is more recognizable as a mass-produced, but still hand-painted, product. There are similarities to the work of Charlotte Rhead.

Animal models

Animal models were produced in the 1930s. A rabbit, available in seven sizes mimics the Shore & Copestake ‘Sylvac’ models, but dogs and other domestic animals were also made.

Tigo Ware

‘Tigo Ware’, launched in 1953 is strikingly different to Denby’s traditional ware. It was designed by Tibor Reich a textile designer and textile manufacturer from Stratford-on-Avon. The range includes tableware, table accessories such as small dishes and trays decorated in solid colours, usually including a black, vases and even small animal figurines. Much of the range has scraffito decoration and Denby used a special white clay to contrast with the dark, often black, glaze. There are attractive, scraffito-decorated plates with semi-abstract representations of figures in Reich’s unique style.  Reich was a versatile designer and may have been drawn ceramics in order to complement his textile designs. Perhaps most striking is the black and white tableware and vases evocative of the Beswick ‘zebra-striped’ ware and Midwinter ‘Zambesi’ of the same period. Tigo Ware now recognised as classic 1950s design and is highly sought.





© Mike Perry 2011


Tableware and kitchenware with names like Cottage Blue, Manor Green and Homestead Brown designed by Donald Gilbert were important Denby products in the 1930s and were re-introduced in the 1950s as the company became predominantly a producer of tableware. In the 1970s as Denbyware Ltd, the company continued to produce the highly successful tableware manufactured by its predecessor in the 1960s. Oven-to-table ware was an important new product in the 1970s and the company greatly expanded its presence in the North American market. Stylish dinnerware and tableware, including the oven-to table ware for which Denby is also well known, continued to be the mainstay of the company’s business into the 21st century.

Collectible tableware patterns include:

Greenwheat (1956), Ode (1961), Chevron (1962), Arabesque (1963), Troubadour (1971), and Gypsy (1971).

Denby ‘Harvest’ pattern stoneware dinner plate.  

'Harvest' is a little known variant of the ever popular 'Greenwheat' pattern, with the wheat head depicted in pink rather than the original green. 'Harvest' was introduced in 1965 and finally discontinued in 1990.

Diameter 220 mm.

Image: © Michael Perry 2010