Gurgle Fish Jugs

The Dartmouth Pottery Gurgle Fish Jug is world famous. so one might be interested to know where it came from. Gurgling fish jugs were originally made by Thomas Forester and Co. c1870′s. They were also made by George Morley & Co c1880 and much later by Grimwade c1930′s

It is reported that in the late 1940′s the Grimwade/Royal Winton firm of Staffordshire who had been making these fish shaped jugs in the 1930′s were still tied to wartime restrictions so were unable to allocate materials to restart manufacture of their gurgle fish jugs to meet fresh orders. The newly established Dartmouth Pottery had spare capacity and few if any wartime restrictions, so a deal was struck for the Dartmouth Pottery to slip cast jugs for Grimwade’s to decorate and in return Dartmouth had the right keep and use the moulds.

Dartmouth Pottery did design and produce their own version of the gurgle jug called a Cod Fish jug which was mould marked 144, but this was anatomically incorrect and had a tail likely to break during manufacture. Those that where made have been seen in copper green as well as the metallic colours of gold, copper and silver. The master block moulds for these jugs were found in the pottery cellars in 2002 still marked “New gurgle jug”. Much more interesting are the fine Merman/Neptune and Mermaid gurgle jugs thought to have been designed and made shortly afterwards.

Certainly by 1958 Dartmouth were selling and advertising the Grimwade designed jugs as their own. They used the gurgling noise they made when poured by refering to them as “A novelty that always attracts attention” or “A Jug That Gurgles”. In that same year the Britannia Royal Naval College commissioned a pair of special gurgle jugs to be made for presentation to the Queen and Prince Philip. Eventually the standard jugs were made in three sizes with the early Dartmouth marked jugs being hand decorated in the same pale colours as those produced by Grimwade’s before the war. Later most jugs were glazed in plain or metallic colours prior to the multi coloured hand decorated versions ceasing in the early 1960′s.

In 1964 another version of a gurgling cod fish jug was made (also in three sizes) for Shreve Crump & Low of Boston USA, these continued to be produced up until closure of the pottery in 2002. Over the years the popular gurgling jug has also been made for a variety of special Royal occasions as well as for several distilleries, notably Plymouth Gin who had a variety of versions.

At the turn of the century a new larger size jug was made, hand decorated in a variety of colours together with the traditional sizes also multicoloured. These later jugs were only in production until to pottery closed so will eventually become very collectable.

After the closure of the factory in 2002 gurgle jugs carrying the Dartmouth mould mark but labelled Wades were on sale in the Devon area. Today Wades make the jug in Stoke on Trent, with many being marketed in new attractive colours by Gluggle Ltd.

To see groups of interesting jugs or to buy new reproductions visit www.glugglejugs.co.uk/pages/history

The Sandygate Pottery (1951-c1990′s) of Kingsteignton made an fine gurgle fish jug decorated in plain and multicolours as well as a very attractive mermaid jug. Britannia Designs (1985) Ltd. This short lived business made a crude version of the gurgle jug but closed down shortly afterwards.