Colin Melbourne (1928-2009) ranks highly along with the best of British Ceramic Designers of the 20th Century. It seems surprising that his work is not more widely known and appreciated outside the U.K, but many of his designs seemed to be ahead of their time.
The vase below I came across late last year is from Melbourne’s “Petra” – a series of several different camouflage style patterns for Royal Norfolk, Staffordshire, c late 1950s.
Colin Melbourne “Petra” Series Vase
Colin also produced a now very collectable series of animals for Beswick, another for Midwinter and one for Bossons. Colin also worked with David Queensberry on a series called “Drumlanrig Melbourne” with striking abstract patterns. You can see examples of most of these series on the UK website RetroSelect .
I think though, one of Melbourne’s most striking series was “Memphis”, for Crown Devon c1960. Read more
Kiln Craft Staffordshire – Bacchus Design
“Kiln Craft” Bacchus was huge in the 1970’s as utilitarian and affordable kitchen ware – It is probably not highly collectable, as it isn’t as tough and long-lasting as many wares from other English potteries of the period – but I like it because of the pattern design which couldn’t be more seventies, and also the forms in the series.
Additionally the trademark “Kiln Craft” logo would have to be one of the most iconic pieces of Graphic Design from the 1970’s
Kiln Craft Bacchus – Tea Cup
Kiln Craft Bacchus Stamp
Kiln Craft was produced by Staffordshire Potteries Ltd., which grew out of the Keele Street Pottery Group. In the 1950s they were producers of utilitarian white cups, and dinner wares.
During the 1960s and 1970s the company concentrated on the production of mugs as well.
Kiln Craft Bacchus Ramekin Bowl
Kiln Craft Bacchus Bowl
The Kilncraft brand name was introduced in 1972 and introduced a new range of modern shapes, colours and surface decorations, such as the Bramble and Bacchus ranges.
This range was so successful that the name and trade mark was adopted as the corporate symbol for Staffordshire Potteries Ltd.
Moira Pottery Staffordshire
Moira pottery was originally founded in 1922, and is still well known for its domestic or utilitarian earthenware which started with jam jars, and progressed to its well known “Hillstonia” range which was made from 1934-1972 . It also produced salt glazed stoneware, beer steins, and stamped/branded domestic ware of many types.
The pottery was located near Burton-on-Trent in Staffordshire and mined its own clay on site. Moira is often (and seemingly incorrectly) documented as having closed in 1972 by a National Coal Board compulsory acquisition. (It sat on a valuable coal seam, which is often next to a clay seam)
From snippets of information I have come across it seems the original Moira location was closed, but Moira then either re-openend or operated at a nearby location until the mid 1980s when it closed and the site possibly became a textile factory.
The Victoria & Albert Museum also has 2 pieces of Moira salt glazed stoneware pottery in its collection, made in 1981. You can see one of them on the V&A site HERE.
The beautiful clay used by Moira pottery was very plastic in nature and beautiful for throwing as well as enhancing glaze colour and surface, and was also used by other potteries such as that at Albrighton.
The beautifully plastic characteristics of the Moira clay differentiates it from lesser quality creamware – in the jug I have pictured below you can still see the concentric rings from its throwing because it held shape so well.
If you know more about the later history of this pottery, or even worked at Moira I would love to hear from you.