Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,355 pages of information and 245,904 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Worcester Royal Porcelain Co

From Graces Guide
December 1954.
October 1963.

of Royal Porcelain Works, Worcester

1751 The company was founded by Dr. John Wall[1], an eminent physician, William Davis and a group of local businessmen, who transferred the ceramic works set up in Bristol by Benjamin Lund to Worcester on the banks of the River Severn.

Dr. Wall along with another of the group, apothecary William Davis, developed their method for producing porcelain. Dr. Wall secured the sum of £4500 from the partners to establish the factory in Worcester and those original partnership deeds are still housed in the Museum of Worcester Porcelain.

1756 Robert Hancock worked at Worcester and was the first person to apply transfer prints to porcelain.

1783 An independent decorating factory was opened nearby by Robert Chamberlain, the business later merged with Worcester.

1789 The company was given a royal warrant, the word royal was added to the company name.

1862 The company was established. [2]

1934 Incorporated as private company: Worcester China Co Ltd

1935 Renamed as Worcester Royal Porcelain Co Ltd

WWII: Much of the production was suspended; part of the main works were made available for use by Welwyn Electrical Laboratories which had been asked by the government to increase production of vitreous enamelled resistors and to produce carbon resistors, most of which had previously been imported. As a result became associated with Worcester Royal Porcelain Co[3]

1946 40 percent of the share capital of Welwyn was acquired by Worcester Royal Porcelain

1947 Advert in British Industries Fair Catalogue as Exhibiting Member of the British Pottery Manufacturers' Federation of Federation House, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. Composite Exhibit. (Pottery and Glassware Section - (Olympia, Ground Floor, Stand No. A.1241) [4]

1953 Welwyn became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Worcester Royal; porcelain production for Welwyn was carried out at Tonyrefail.

1954 Public company incorporated; offer of shares in Worcester Royal Porcelain Company which had 2 main parts - the production of ceramics (Worcester) and the production of electrical components (Welwyn Electrical Laboratories). Main factory at Worcester was the Royal Porcelain Works; the subsidiary factory at Tonyrefail was responsible for research and development of new uses of porcelain in the engineering field.

1959 Name changed to Royal Worcester Ltd [5]

1970 Electronics, particulary Welwyn Electric, accounted for most of Royal Worcester's profits; the focus was being switched from resistors to micro-electronics[6]

1973 Royal Worcester acquired Colvern, which would be complementary to Welwyn Electric[7]

1976 Royal Worcester merged with ceramic manufacturer Spode and the company became one of Porcelain and Fine China.

At its height, the firm employed nearly 1,000 people, but after merger with Spode, and heavy competition from overseas, the production was gradually switched to factories in Stoke and abroad.

1978 Royal Worcester bought back the 45 percent holding of the US owner of Spode, Carborundum which was in new hands. All parts of the business were making satisfactory progress including Industrial Ceramics, Welwyn and Colvern[8]

1982 Royal Worcester recorded a first half loss for the first time, mainly due to declining demand for china[9]

1983 Crystalate Holdings acquired Royal Worcester including Welwyn, manufacturer of resistors.

1984 Crystalate sold Royal Worcester Spode without Welwyn to LRC International and the industrial ceramics division separately to Coors Porcelain of the US[10] [11].

The Royal Worcester factory closed in 2008. Part of the site houses the 'Museum of Royal Worcester'.

2009 Portmeirion Potteries acquired the Royal Worcester and Spode brands and brought much of the manufacturing back to UK

See Also


Sources of Information

  • Wikipedia
  • Trademarked. A History of Well-Known Brands - from Aertex to Wright's Coal Tar by David Newton. Pub: Sutton Publishing 2008 ISBN 978-0-7509-4590-5
  • Worcester Porcelain Museum.
  1. The Engineer 1866/05/11 page 3434.
  2. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  3. The Times, Oct 04, 1954
  4. 1947 British Industries Fair Adverts 398 and 399; and p303
  5. The Times, Jun 11, 1959
  6. The Times, May 30, 1970
  7. The Times, Nov 03, 1973
  8. The Times, Aug 15, 1978
  9. The Times, Sep 09, 1982
  10. The Times, Sep 29, 1984
  11. The Times, Oct 18, 1984