Joseph Bourne & Son Ltd, Denby Pottery
NOTE: This article which follows originally appeared in a 1956 book 'British Potters and Pottery Today', is based mainly upon accounts provided mainly by the firms themselves.
Although the Denby Pottery was only founded in 1809 its history may be considered to have begun with the birth of Joseph Bourne in 1788, towards the end of that important half-century which saw the art of ceramics develop to an unanticipated degree of achievement in England.
His father, William Bourne of Belper was already a potter of repute and in due course his son followed in his footsteps, inheriting his senior's flair for integrity of craftsmanship upon which the firm prides itself to the present day.
The early years of the nineteenth century foreshadowed the coming Industrial Revolution, during which trades and industries of many descriptions, including the potters' craft, were expanding and looking forward to increased development. It was the era immediately before the coming of the railways, of course, but already the great turnpike roads, with their ever increasing traffic, were opening up communications and new possibilities for industrial progress.
Thus, while the road from Derby to Alfreton was being constructed in 1806, and an import ant discovery was made of a deposit of the finest stone-ware clay, it was natural that William Bourne should appreciate its value. He obtained a lease of this clay bed and, through his son Joseph, the rights have passed to the Denby Pottery which Joseph founded.
Although he began in a very modest way, at first no more than a simple shed and kiln, it grew apace, ever priding itself upon its fine craftsmanship. First founded in the period of salt-glaze wares it still adheres to pottery, no porcelain being produced. It is a story of nearly a century and a half, during which, as the business grew, more potters were engaged, more kilns built and more buildings added to the original, until eventually, in comparatively recent years a new and well planned modern factory has taken their place.
All this signifies, of course, that great changes have taken place in the methods of production and now-a-days an enormous variety of oven and table wares, decorative pottery and utilitarian wares comprise the output of the Denby Pottery. Although it was a thriving business in the thirties of this century, it was because of this that the premises were found to be inadequate to the demands of the home and export markets. The new works, eliminating wastage of time and energy, resulted in efficiency and satisfactory conditions of work. It is in this modern environment that the great-grandsons (and even their sons) of the skilled craftsmen who helped to build up the business still play their part, for at Denby Pottery the 'family tradition' is valued as a precious asset. The firm is justly proud, too, of its up-to-date showrooms, made possible by the redesigning of the factory. They have, not inaptly, been described as a 'new shop-window for British pottery'.
NOTE: This article which originally appeared in a 1956 book 'British Potters and Pottery Today', is based mainly upon accounts provided mainly by the firms themselves.
Questions, comments, contributions? email: Steve Birks