W R Midwinter Ltd., Albion and Hadderidge Potteries, Burslem

 

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.

In the short space of forty-five years the Midwinter business has developed into one of the leading manufacturers of domestic earthenware in Burslem.

Starting 'from scratch' as one may say, it was established in 1910, when, after fourteen years spent with the Royal Doulton Potteries at Burslem, W. R. Midwinter founded his own small pottery at Bourne's Bank. Already trained in manufacturing and sales technique he first turned his attention to the making of 'Rockingham' teapots and tea and toilet wares. Surmounting the difficulties inseparable from beginning with little capital and small equipment he was actually able to extend his efforts by the year 1918. In that year he acquired the Albion Pottery and, a little later, another pottery adjoining, the latter making tea and toilet wares.

War services in the Royal Navy followed, during which his wife carried on the management, and only at demobilisation in 1918 was he free to resume his activities. Thereupon a third factory was acquired and a courageous programme of reconstruction was entered upon, aiming at the gradual co-ordination of all three works.

In the years leading up to the outbreak of the second World War an average of about 700 on the pay roll speaks eloquently for the standing of the firm at that period, although the lean years of the war, with no more than token production meant a serious setback.

But recovery was rapid and by 1946, when his son, W. Roy Midwinter, returned from service with the Royal Air Force, they were again well represented in the world markets. At this period the introduction of a new and superior body, supplemented by the introduction of new methods in the handling of the slip, resulted in greatly improved results.

Always moving with the times the factory was modernised, a new making shop with semi-automatic making machines and mangle-type dryers, a new decorative department and a continuous-operating enamel kiln and many other improvements have helped them along the road to prosperity.

Although the firm is chiefly noted for its tea, dinner and other table wares it also has an ever increasing output of animal figures and 'Fancies'. Specialties in their table ware lines are the traditional printed patterns landscapes, Rural England and 'Roger', which is of late eighteenth-century origin, as well as both over and under glaze decorative patterns, both simple and ornate, with traditional gold edging. At the present time something near a hundred running patterns are made. At the same time a more modern trend is seen in their 'Stylecraft' table ware, in white semi-porcelain with crystalline glaze which will not crack. It has no sharp corners and no crevices to harbour dust. Its handles are easily grasped.

Truly the building up of the Midwinter firm in one generation is a remarkable achievement.

 

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.

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