Moorcroft – 100 Years of Pottery

Moorcroft – 100 Years of Pottery
by
Pam Trowels

1997 marks the 100th Anniversary of Moorcroft Pottery. Moorcroft
is enjoying much renewed interest from collectors as the quality of
its pottery is recognised and appreciated.

The Moorcroft tradition began in 1897 when William Moorcroft (born 1873), then
working for James Macintyre & Co Ltd at Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, designed
his first pieces of pottery. The James Macintyre factory was well
known for its expert tube-liners and decorators which brought William’s
designs to the public. William Moorcroft’s designs became synonymous
with quality design and decoration and was bestowed its first
Royal Appointment in 1927. It received a second in 1946, a year after
William Moorcroft’s death.

William’s son Walter took over the pottery in the same year. Its development
up to then had seen a collaboration with the famous London store Liberty
which enabled a potworks to be built at Cobridge in 1913. It had also seen
the boom the 1920s which saw the Moorcroft Pottery grow in prestige and
reach a height in popularity which has not been again until
the last few years. Much of this popularity was due to the rich flambe
glaze which was developed by William and Walter Moorcroft enabling
enriched and superb colours.

After the war Walter continued in the Moorcroft tradition of running
the pottery. Walter’s designs continued to bring the same quality of
decoration and colour associated with Moorcroft, including the lily,
hibiscus and magnolia designs. The post-war years were quite successful
and in 1961, Walter was able to buy out the Liberty stock, so allowing
the Moorcroft family to regain total control of the company once
again.

The late 1960s to the early 1980s saw a change in the fortunes of Moorcroft.
In 1984 a controlling interest was sold to the Roper brothers, and an
attempt was made to change the nature of Moorcroft pottery to mass
production. Fortunately, this was unsuccessful and the brothers sold their
share in 1986 to Hugh Edwards and Richard Dennis. There was a further
reshuffle in 1992 when Richard and Sally Dennis left the company.

Walter Moorcroft retired as design director in 1987, after which Sally
Dennis took over the mantle. In the same year John Moorcroft the last
family shareholder became Managing Director. From the late 80s there has
been a dramatic turn around in the Moorcroft Pottery. Moorcroft’s
latest designer Rachel Bishop took over from Sally Dennis in 1993.
The two ladies designs have helped re-create the Moorcroft name and
its association with quality and workmanship. Rachel Bishop’s designs
have been especially well received, and the Moorcroft tradition looks
safe in her hands.

Moorcroft have been helped by the fact that they have stuck to their
quality ethic. Many collectors have recognised the unique individual
way in which Moorcroft pottery is created, as against the cheap, mass
production of other products. The Moorcroft revival seems set to
continue.