W R Midwinter Ltd






 

Location and period of operation:

W R Midwinter Ltd

Burslem

1910

  1987 
under Wedgwood ownership from 1970

(See sources)

Earthenware manufacturer at the Bournes Bank, Albion and Hadderidge Potteries, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent.

  • William Robinson Midwinter spent 14 years working at the Doulton factory in Nile Street, Burslem.

  • In 1910 he started his own company in a small works in Bournes Bank.  

  • c.1914 (1918?)  he acquired the Albion Pottery (Navigation Road, Burslem) and in the 1920's the Hadderidge Pottery. 

  • William Robinson Midwinter was also in partnership Samuel Winkle, John William Pointon and William Sherwin as earthenware dealers in the companies 'The Crown Potteries Company' and 'The Derby Pottery Company' - this partnership was dissolved in 1916.  

  • In 1932 the business was incorporated as W. R. Midwinter Ltd, with William R Midwinter and A. T. Godwin as Directors.

  • By the early 1940's the works employed around 700 people. 

  • Roy Midwinter (W. R. Midwinter's son) joined the company in 1946 after demobilisation from the Royal Air Force.

  • The business became very sucessful and in 1964 Midwinter acquired the businesses of A. J. Wilkinson and Newport Pottery.

  • In the late 1960's Midwinter hit financial difficulties and merged with J & G Meakin in 1968 under 'British Tableware Ltd' 

  • The Meakin-Midwinter business was taken over by the Wedgwood Group two years later in 1970. 

  • The Midwinter name continued within the Wedgwood Group until 1987 when the Meakin & Midwinter (Holdings) Ltd business was closed.   

 

1956 article on Midwinter

 


London Gazette, 7 July 1916 


notice of the dissolution of the partnership between William Robinson Midwinter, Samuel Winkle, John William Pointon and William Sherwin as earthenware dealers in the companies 'The Crown Potteries Company' and 'The Derby Pottery Company'


  


London Gazette, 30th November 1987 

notice of the dissolution of the business of
Meakin & Midwinter (Holdings) Ltd 

 


Initials and marks used as identification:

 


W. R. Midwinter
Burslem

pre-war mark
c.1932-41

 




Midwinter
PORCELON
Burslem

the registration number dates from 1932

pre-war mark
c.1932-41



B
Midwinter
PORCELON
Burslem

the letter 'B' indicates war-time
control production
1942-47

 


Midwinter
PORCELON
Burslem

post-war mark
c.1947+



Midwinter
Semi-porcelain

c.1946+


 


Midwinter
Stylecraft
Fashion Shape

c.1961+



Midwinter
Fine Tableware

c.1962+


 


Stonehenge
Midwinter

1972 - early 1980's 



Stoneware
Midwinter
Member of the Wedgwood Group

c. 1980's 




Stylecraft contemporary tableware by Midwinter 

advert: April 1953 Pottery Gazette

 


 


1950's advert - Midwinter Modern, Stylecraft
'Cherokee' and 'Quite Contrary' by Jessie Tait
Plant Life' and 'Chequers' by Terence Conran
 



Midwinter presents contemporary Stylecraft models

advert: August 1956 Pottery Gazette


 


c.1974-early 1980's advert - Midwinter Stonehenge Ware - Nasturtium pattern

Nasturtium was one of Jessie Tait's last designs for Midwinter

photo: robmcrorie


 

Examples of Midwinter ware:

The Midwinter factory was started in 1910 by Roy Midwinter's father, William Robinson Midwinter. originally located at the Bournes Bank pottery. the factory quickly outgrew the space and moved to the Albion Pottery in 1914.

The factory's early production was standard tea and dinner ware with the popular patterns of the era, namely Art Deco type images and shapes. The factory followed the fashion for conical holloware and angular handles, producing nothing remarkable.

One area where the factory did excel was in the production of nurseryware, employing the eminent designer William Heath Robinson. He designed a series of nurseryware with unusual patterns and these items are rare and sought after.

The factory prospered until the war when most of the site was given over to Government ministries. Roy Midwinter joined the company in 1946 and set about revolutionising British tableware.

 


Midwinter - 1930's children's plate designed by William Heath Robinson
decorated with the band of children's faces around the edge and the central illustration 
depicting children playing on a see-saw with the nursery rhyme See saw, Margery Daw

 


Midwinter Child's Bowl by William Heath Robinson
1930's

 

William Heath Robinson (1872 1944) was an English cartoonist and illustrator best known for drawings of ridiculously complicated machines for achieving simple objectives.

Wikipedia article

 


 


Midwinter pre-war lidded tureen
1930's

 


 

The 1950s

"It was in August 1952 that the Board of Trade gave potters the opportunity to explore colour and shape for the first time in ten years. Some were ready for the freedom and launched curvaceous pots in bright colours. 

Roy Midwinter had visited America and returned brimming with ideas which he was able to put into effect once restrictions were lifted. Throughout the 1950s Midwinter was the leading company in contemporary tableware designs on their Stylecraft and Fashion shapes, Jessie Tait made an enormous contribution to Midwinter's surface pattern design. The style trends seen at The Festival of Britain appeared both in shapes and surface patterns -  crystallography, atom structure and 'spiky' architecture, Colours reflected general interior design requirements - primary colours, maroon and grey predominated. There were few straight edges to be seen..."

'Dynamic Design' Stoke-on-Trent City Museum and Art Gallery


Midwinter Prima Vera pattern by Jessie Tait 
early 1950's

 

Jessie Tait created some of the best known and most innovative ceramic designs of the 1950s. The work she made as chief designer of Midwinter Pottery was characteristic of its time: cheerily and wittily modernist, exuberantly abstract.

Born in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire and at the age of 13, she began studies at the Burslem School of Art where she remained for five years. 

After a brief time as assistant designer to Charlotte Rhead, she joined the family firm of W.R. Midwinter in 1946. 

Like much of the pottery industry, Midwinter took time to find its feet in the immediate postwar period. A turning point came when Roy Midwinter, the son of the boss, William, took a research trip to the west coast of America, where he observed the sales success of the new, fluid, modern forms by designers such as Eva Zeisel. Chintzy patterns and fussy florals were on the wane. 

The public wanted something more streamlined, stylish and in keeping with the fresh looks emerging in furniture and fabric design.

 

Jessie Tait obituary

 


 


Jessie Tait designs for Midwinter and JG Meakin
1960-70's

In 1968 Midwinter merged with J & G Meakin under 'British Tableware Ltd' 
The Meakin-Midwinter business was taken over by the Wedgwood Group two years later in 1970. 

Two vegetable dishes, in the background 'Lakeland' for Midwinter, 
in the foreground 'Minuet' for JG Meakin, late 1960's or maybe just into the 1970's.

photo: robmcrorie

 



plate in the Stonehenge range

the Stonehenge range was released in 1972 and remained popular until the early 1980's 


Casserole dish in the Stonehenge 'Earth' pattern

 


Cup and saucer in the Stonehenge 'Moon' pattern

 


Coffee set in the Stonehenge 'Sun' pattern

the Stonehenge speckled glaze and strong patterns were very popular
the Earth, Moon and Sun patterns were designed by Eve Midwinter

 


 


Midwinter Pottery - Roland Rat Superstar
c.1985

 

After Wedgwood absorbed JG Meakin, who had taken over Midwinter, the Midwinter name flourished in the 1970's, with the Stonehenge range. 

However, the Midwinter brand eventually faded away, and one of the last ranges to carry the Midwinter backstamp may have been the Roland Rat and Friends childrens set, after the breakfast TV puppet character. As well as Roland plate there were pieces for Little Reggie and Kevin the Gerbil. 

Date of introduction is unclear, probably when Roland Rat Superstar was at his sneering height, around 1984-5.

photo: robmcrorie

 


Questions/comments/contributions? email: Steve Birks