The Maling story begins in North Hylton, near Sunderland where William Maling established the first Maling pottery. This was to be the beginning of a 201 year story which would finally end in nearby Newcastle with the closure of the last Maling factory in 1963.
For many years, Maling were distinguished by the volume, quality and diversity of their output. For the most part, it was not decorative but functional - C. T. Maling & Sons produced vast quantities of good quality white wares ranging from toilet pans to tableware, servicing the needs of a wide range of institutional and commercial customers. Maling's Ford A pottery and the Ford B pottery that followed it were amongst the largest and most modern the world had ever seen, utilising modern machinery to automate high volume production wherever possible and offering a good working environment for their many thousands of staff.
Wares were often plain white, although they could be decorated according to the customer's requirements. Also of note was the Maling's production of jam jars. Maling were almost certainly the largest producers of earthenware jam jars in the 19th century, producing millions of jam jars for many leading jam manufacturers of the day, including Keiller, Frank Cooper, Lipton's and Sainsbury's. This line of work was a key part of Maling's business until the 1930s, when glass jars were becoming more prevalent.
While Maling's output had always included an element of decorative ware, it was perhaps not until the late 19th century that more attention started to be paid to the artistic merit of the patterns used, especially in the area of table ware. The quality of the designs themselves and of the lithographs used increased dramatically over these years but perhaps the biggest leap forwards was with the introduction of the Cetem Ware range in 1908.
This range was marketed as a "semi-porcelain" and encompassed the usual range of toilet and table wares. The Cetem Ware range was very successful commercially, and was followed in the early 1920s by the equally successful black decorative wares - highly decorated toilet and table wares on a completely black ground - doubtless influenced by the popular Oriental porcelain of the time.
Growth in the output of decorative wares continued, and in 1926 Lucien Boullemier joined Maling from a Staffordshire firm. He was already a well known designer and proceeded to revitalise existing Maling designs as well as produce many of his own.
He led Maling in improving the stylistic appeal of their pottery through improved use of lustre glazes and gilding; one particularly recognisable technique he brought to Maling was that of gold transfer printing. Similar to ordinary transfer printing, the ink is replaced with a light oil, so that after the transfer has been applied gold dust can be painted on such that it adheres to the gold but falls away from the rest of the piece, leaving the pattern outlined in gold. This technique gifts even quite mundane pieces with a much more stylish and luxurious look, and when combined with some of Maling's high quality lustre finishes this gave a quite glamorous and stylish effect and proved very successful. Some of the best examples of Maling 1930s decorative ware used this technique - indeed almost all their top range decorative lustre wares had their patterns outlined in gold.
Maling continued to be very successful throughout the 1930s but after the second world war experienced difficulties in resuming production of the kind of quality decorative wares that had proved so successful during the 1930s. This seems to have been due in part to a difficulty in finding sufficient numbers of skilled staff and also to the increasingly dated manufacturing technology and processes that were in place at the Ford Pottery. Both quality and volume suffered, and in 1948 the Maling family had decided that for any further improvements to be made outside investment would be needed and accordingly found a buyer for Maling.
Hoult's Removals gained control of the Maling pottery but it was to prove only a temporary respite. Difficulties continued throughout the 1950s and in 1962 the final blow came as Maling lost the contract to provide Ringtons with decorative wares. This contract had run since the 1920s and its loss was to prove one problem too many for Hoult's who in 1963 finally closed the Maling pottery down.
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