The Potteries

Yes we know that collectively the potteries were known as the Torquay Potteries, but it all started in St Marychurch.

As part of the Great Exhibition of 1851 and the Arts and Crafts movement, manufacturers were encouraged to take an interest in terracotta ware.  Also at this time the wealthy Victorian tourists started to visit the newly discovered English Riviera to take advantage of the mild climate.

The red clay of our area is impossible not to notice and during the1860’s whilst the new owner of Watcombe House Mr G.J.Allen was having a well dug in the grounds, he realised that the clay could be of great value to potters and sculptors.  After tests confirmed that it was ideal for the manufacture of terracotta, instead of shipping it off to other parts of the country, it was decided to create a pottery here.

Potters and decorators were brought from the Staffordshire potteries and Watcombe Pottery was born.

The Watcombe Pottery at first produced terracotta ware often with enamel finishes.

Watcombe terracotta

When in 1873 Queen Victoria was presented with and accepted a pair of Watcombe water bottles as a birthday present from Baroness Burdett-Coutts, the pottery was given the Royal Warrant.  The success of the pottery was guaranteed.

In later years Watcombe produced glazed ware.

Watcombe glazed ware

The Royal Watcombe Pottery closed in 1962.

Other beds of suitable clay were found around the area and many other potteries were established.

The Torquay Terra-Cotta Company was at Hele Cross in 1875 also producing terracotta ware, possibly to a higher standard.  The firm went out of business in around 1905.

Aller Vale, not quite in the local area, produced terracotta ware and also the famous slip ware.

Aller Vale scandy design

This design was aimed at the tourist trade, Scandy patterns and Mottoware were sold in the Liberty’s Store in London.  In 1901 Aller combined with Watcombe and became Royal Aller Vale and Watcombe Art Potteries.  Aller Vale was closed after the war and Watcombe continued until 1962.



Aller Vale sgraffito decoration, scandy was the local name.


There were many other smaller local firms all making terracotta ware producing different designs,

……. some very fine and stylish with beautiful birds and flowers.

Lemon and Crute kingfisher

……. and some for the holiday makers, tea sets and motto ware.

Motto ware

The Lemon and Crute pottery was on the corner of Trumlands Road and Teignmouth Road, started by Harry Crute and Tom Lemon produced beautifully decorated pieces with flowers, butterflies and birds.

Lemon and Crute fruit bowl

Harry Crute’s hand can be recognised for his particular signature of a fern leaf on his pots.  Harry Crute along with Henry ‘Harry’ Birbeck were possibly the best decorators of their day.

Lemon and Crute purple design

Lemon and Crute purple design

Two examples of Lemon and Crute purple design, although Long park, just off the old Newton Road, was famous for it’s Cockerel pattern it also made similar.

After Tom Lemon left the partnership in 1926 the pottery was renamed the Daison Art Pottery.

Daison Art

Daison Art pottery

The Barton Pottery produced art ware in bright blue, seagulls or moonlight scenes were a specialty.

Barton seagull

Babbacombe Pottery was founded in 1952 and produced motto ware and contemporary designs.

The Babbacombe Pottery

The pottery closed in 2002 and the buildings are now used for mobility and care services.