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British Industrial History

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C. H. Brannam

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of Litchdon Pottery, Litchdon Street, Barnstaple, (North) Devon. Telephone: Barnstaple 135

1847 Thomas Backway Brannam started business on his own, after having worked for some years as a potter, in Barnstaple, Devon

1848 Thomas took over the lease to the North Walk premises (the handbill still shows the spelling "Brannan").

1853 He also purchased the other pottery in Litchdon Street, where Brannam's remained in business until a move to Roundswell Estate in 1990.

Thomas became particularly successful in the production of sgraffito [a] pottery and one of his jugs secured a medal at the Great Exhibition in 1851. Most of the products however were country pottery, as well as bricks, sewage pipes and tiles.

1867 His son Charles Hubert Brannam started work at the pottery at the age of twelve and was artistically inclined. He had left school having won the Art Prize. He was initially trained in the business by his father. He was sent to work with his brother-in-law William Britton, a local photographer. He later became a member of the Literary and Scientific Institution.

1870 He won the Queen's Prize for Drawing. He then educated himself in the theory and practice of ceramics and was invited to London, where he studied pottery in the museums.

1879 After many years trying, Charles managed to persuade his father to let him experiment with the production of art pottery at their Litchdon Street works. His father then allowed him to start producing his own work.

1881 Charles took over the Litchdon Street pottery, when his father retired, and was apparently dissatisfied with the quality of the ware and the general organisation. He was responsible for the development of the art pottery department and the future success of the business. He recruited highly skilled designers, especially William Baron and John Dewdney, but continued to throw the ware himself.

1885 He received an order from Queen Victoria and this brought good publicity to the pottery. The year after, Charles registered the name "Royal Barum Ware". A London outlet was found for the wares, the company soon established an enviable reputation and were patronised by the crowned heads of Europe. Fine wares continued to be produced well into the twentieth century.

1913 'Charles Hubert Brannam handed the business over to his sons Charles William Brannam and John Woolacott Brannam (Jack).

1914 C. H. Brannam and Sons became a limited company.

1929 Listed Exhibitor. Manufacturers of "Royal Barum Ware", entirely hand-made, Toilet Sets and "Cottage Ware", Pancheons [b], Bread Pans, Garden Flower Pots, "Ye Olde Devonshire Pitchers", Butter Coolers, Crosses and Wreaths, Red Earthenware, "Taw" Ware. (Stand No. G.27) [1]

After his death, the emphasis moved away from art pottery back towards plainer domestic wares. Although some consider that "the pottery never reached the same heights" after Charles Hubert, his descendants brought out some beautiful new glazes (including a radio-active orange) and had the task of steering the business through the second world war with the difficulty of obtaining coal supplies.

Post-WWII. Jack's son Peter, after serving in the army during the war, carried out considerable modernisation.

1979 Peter retired (died in 1988) and sold the business to Candy Tiles of Newton Abbot, who ten years later found that the old Litchdon Street premises were too cramped. They moved to its a site on the Roundswell Industrial Estate. The old pottery building was preserved and is now a health centre. Brannam's has thus ensured the survival of pottery making in North Devon, an industry which is at least 700 years old. Brannam pottery is widely collected and due to the company's long life.

Many marks have been used over the years, mostly using combinations of C. H. Brannam, Castle, Barum and Barnstaple.

  • Note:
    • [a] Sgraffito-i - decorative work in which different colours are got by removal of parts of outer layers of material laid on: pottery with such decoration.
    • [b] Pancheon or panchion - a coarse earthenware pan

See Also


Sources of Information

  • [1] Pottery Studio
  • [2] Brannam's Pottery by James Brannan
  • Chambers English Dictionary - Notes [a] and [b]