Poole Pottery Pottery Guide

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The history of the Poole Pottery can be traced back to 1873, when Jesse Carter purchased the East Quay Pottery in Poole from James Walker, after that gentleman's pottery business went bankrupt. Jesse Carter's background was as a successful builders merchant in Surrey, but he believed that the architectural ceramics business offered a profitable future and determined to put all his efforts into this. Moving to the area with his family, two of whom were to play a major role in the future of the pottery, he began to work. By the 1880s, Carter & Company had become very well established locally, overshadowing some longer established local companies and beginning to encroach on the territory of some of the well known Staffordshire potteries.

At this time, the output of the Poole Pottery was revolved around decorative tiling and other architectural pottery, such as fire surrounds. Carter & Co's wide range of decorative tiles were being widely used in shops, pubs and hotels, as well as for advertising and mosaic flooring.

During this time two of Jesse Carter's sons, Charles and Owen had begun working for the family business, and when Jesse Carter retired in 1901, control of the business fell to them. Over the next twenty years, the output of the company changed to include a growing variety of decorative wares, and the end result of this was the formation of Carter, Stabler & Adams as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Carter & Company in 1921. Harold and Phoebe Stabler and John and Truda Adams brought between them a wealth of creative experience in design, modelling and decoration and the mission of the CSA company was to produce decorative and table wares from the East Quay works in Poole.

Poole Pottery Leaping Springbok Bookends c1930CSA Poole Pottery Vase Paintress Ruth Pavely c1925-34

Over the next forty years, the Carter, Stabler & Adams company proved very successful, producing a very wide variety of decorative and domestic wares. One of the most easily recognisable and successful CSA styles is that of the red earthenware body with a white slip ground and a clear glaze. This style was used until the mid-thirties, when C.S.A. moved to using white clay bodies, probably because they were more suitable for tableware than the red earthenware bodies were. The decorative pieces were all hand painted with patterns that were largely the work of Truda Adams. These colourful and stylish patterns played a key part in the success of CSA and have endured superbly, still looking fresh and attractive today.

CSA Poole Pottery Vase Truda Carter Design FK, Shape 337, c1929-34

CSA's output during the 20s and 30s also included a range of skilfully modelled pieces, often by Harold Stabler or John Adams. Today these models have become highly collectable and hard to find in perfect condition.

As with all of the British pottery industry, the Poole Pottery's output was severely affected by the second world war. Whilst output was restricted by government legislation to plain utility wares until the late 1940s, new ranges were being planned and the retirement or death of several key figures such as Harold Stabler and John Adams meant that it was time for an influx of fresh talent to Carter, Stabler & Adams.

Poole Pottery Biscuit Barrel Truda Carter Design, c1924-1950

The ranges of white earthenware that had been so successful in the past had also become almost unmanageably complex, and these were now rationalised, to become known as Traditional ware, with three levels of decoration - elaborate, medium and simple. Just as in their time, the Truda Adams designs had captured the fashions and styles of their time, something new was needed to reflect the new styles of the 1950s.

Poole Pottery Jug Yellow Bird and Blue Cockerel Pattern , Shape 315, c1952-55

Several new ranges were introduced, but by far the most striking and successful were the Free Form range of patterns and shapes. Poole Pottery freeform was distinguished by a very modern new range of shapes, mixing angles and curves to create completely new shapes, as well as variations on more traditional shapes.

Alfred Read and Guy Sydenham were the driving force behind this range of shapes, and many of the early freeform patterns were also Alfred Read designs, with both Read and Sydenham being responsible for throwing the new shapes. Also especially notable were the creative talents of Ruth Pavely and Ann Read. Responsible for designing and applying many of the hand painted patterns that were applied to Read and Sydenhams' shapes, Ruth Pavely was Head of Painting at the Poole Pottery for many years, and her mark can be seen on some of the finest Poole Pottery pieces of the 1950s, as can Ann Read's. Although John Adams had retired, many of his tableware shapes were also still in use and gained a new lease of life with the application of free form patterns.

Poole Freeform Vase Alfread Read PKT Pattern Shape 715, c1955-58Poole Pottery Freeform Vase Ravioli Pattern by Ruth Pavely, c1950s

Freeform proved to be just what the doctor ordered for the Poole Pottery, and was very successful throughout the 1950s. Today, fans of 1950s design are keen to collect Poole Freeform shapes and the better examples of these pieces command strong values.

As the 1950s came to a close, Poole Pottery was as ever aware that changing times and fashions necessitated fresh creative ideas and looked to one of their newest designers, Robert Jefferson, to lead this work. Jefferson was experienced in the pottery industry, and as well as new design influences, he led the implementation of more modern manufacturing techniques, essential if Poole were to remain popular and profitable.

Poole Pottery Delphis Vase Gilliam Taylor Shape 84, 1966-80

In the early 1960s a new range of studio ware was released - the Delphis range. This featured bold, colourful designs on new shapes created by Robert Jefferson and Tony Morris. The Delphis range proved popular and once more in keeping with the spirit of the times and remained in production, with many variations, until the mid-1970s. Delphis was then superseded by another bold and striking range, the Aegean ware range.

Poole Pottery Aegean Dish With Sailing Boats, Leslie Elsden Shape 81, c1966-80

Leslie Elsden was one of the main creative forces behind this range, providing a fitting culmination to his 50 year career at the Poole Pottery. Much of the Aegean range was decorated using either the silhouette or sgraffito techniques, and the extensive use of browns, oranges and yellows gave the Aegean pieces a very distinctive character. While some shapes were shared with the Delphis and other ranges, both Delphis and Aegean ware have very distinctive and easily recognisable characters.

Poole Pottery continues to produce fine pottery from its factory in Poole today, but its survival in the 21st century has not been easy. In 2003 the Poole Pottery was declared bankrupt, eventually to be saved by a group of private investors. An unfortunate consequence of the bankruptcy was the sale of the entire contents of the Poole Pottery's museum - while the Borough of Poole was able to buy some of the contents of the museum at the resulting auction at Christies, much of it has now been dispersed to private collectors and dealers from all over the world, depriving future generations of the chance to see what was probably the world's most enviable collection of Poole Pottery.

In December 2006, Poole Pottery went into administration, and although it is now under new ownership, the future of pottery production in Poole looks highly uncertain.

Poole Pottery Aurora Pattern Charger by Alan Clarke

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