Thomas Poole, and Gladstone China Ltd., Longton
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 trade today no less than in the world markets the name of Thomas Poole, Ltd., makers of Royal Stafford China, is identified with medium-priced ranges of domestic table ware exclusively. In their own field they have earned a substantial reputation, due in great measure to the courage and persistence of the founder, the first Thomas Poole.
Like many another well known firm it started in a modest way, when Thomas Poole, a potters' printer decided to launch out on his own account. That was in 1845 and the growth of the firm during the hundred and ten years that have since passed has justified the courage of his decision.
He first acquired some premises in the High Street, Longton, and for fifteen years he battled against the many difficulties inseparable from the setting up of a new pottery, where, as in Longton, competition must have been keen. At the end of fifteen years he moved to a larger and more up-to-date factory which he erected. This was called Cobden Works and here, in partnership with a Mr. Johnson, he continued to direct his growing business.
After another four or five years Thomas Poole handed over the business to his son, also Thomas, and the graph of prosperity began to rise steeply. Thomas junior was a pioneer in that he was the first potter to design and install his own steam-heated mangle dryers for flat ware, the prototype from which the automatic type of today has been evolved. Moreover during the General Strike of 1926 he had the courage to adopt oil firing for his intermittent ovens, which caused quite a sensation at the time. He is also credited with having been the introducer, about 1900, of the 2I-piece tea-set, in place of the then usual 40 or 44 pieces. Almost at once it proved a success and the 21-piece set is now normal.
Horace Poole, the present Chairman is of the third generation. He joined his father in I902 at the age of sixteen and a half – and worked his way through the factory. Thus thoroughly equipped he has watched over the destinies of the firm since the first World War.
In 1937 he was responsible for the acquisition of the Gladstone China company, which is still as an associate company under the direction of Peter Poole, while Cobden Works are directed by Raymond, son of the Chairman, who is of the fourth generation. The Cobden Works employs about 350 people and their domestic table ware, especially tea and dinner services, are mainly decorated with coloured lithographs and gold finish, numerous print and enamel designs and ground-laid effects, as well as gold printing.
Since the last war the works have been entirely modernised and extended. In 1946 an electric enamel kiln and in 1948 an electric glost oven were installed, the latter in a new building. The biscuit ovens are at present intermittent, but continuous firing is envisaged. The first de-airing pug ever used in the industry was adopted in 1936. In short the old factory has been rejuvenated. But it retains the traditions of quality and medium price which it has kept always as an objective.
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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