BRITANNIA DESIGNS (pottery)

In July 1953 the thriving Dartmouth Pottery needed to expand so moved some production to Tunstal where they employed 15 people to decorate and glaze work brought up by lorry daily from the Dartmouth Warfleet works. In 1955 the production at Tunstal was expanded to slip casting and firing as an aid to the main pottery at Warfleet Creek. The Keel Street Pottery Company Ltd. also had premises at Tunstall until 1958 when it was taken over by Dartmouth Pottery for their new Britannia Designs part of the business as they had also acquired the Ashley Clough’s business at Buckfast Pottery that had been decorating white ware blanks purchased from the Keel Street Pottery.

Britannia Designs as a Dartmouth Pottery subsidiary company, producing many souvenir articles for the growing tourist trade, a mainstay of the Britannia business for years became jam pots for the Elsenham jam and preserves company.¬† The Elsenham pottery was marked “Specially made for the Elsenham Quality Foods Ltd by Dartmouth Potteries England”.

In 1963 G.J.M Hunt became the new owner of Dartmouth Pottery, another director was Arthur L. Davis with Leslie C. McCraken becoming the director responsible for Britannia Designs. Bill Hassard who had previously worked at Dartmouth worked for Britannia Designs from 1978 where he was the Britannia manager until Britannia was taken over by a new owner in 1985. Early on Britannia Designs continued to make a variety of red clay tankards decorated with transfer printed county maps on a green or yellow ground identical to those made at Dartmouth so these may be found with either a Dartmouth or Britannia back stamp or label, after 1960 many similar tankards to the sporting range were made of white clay with a single colour glaze. Short runs of commissioned trays and mugs with transfer printed line illustrations and silver or gold gilt handles was a strong part of the business that further diversified in products into the Scottish market as well with novelty items like counties map trays, mugs and floral wares after taking over the Kingswear Pottery in 1983. The maps were drawn by S.B. the initials of Stanley Brock an elderly artist from St Ives in Cornwall. As he got older they employed anybody good enough to do the job but in later years it was an artist called Dennis Veal who produced many of the ship illustration on tankards and there was also Derrick Bown another artist at some time. In 1985 Britannia Designs was sold by Mr Cole to C.J. and L.B. Kellett, less successful owners who closed down the business two years later.

Research information from Reg Sore, Virginia Brisco, Keith Poole, Matt White and Bill Hassard. Most photographs from the collection of Keith Poole.