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 the new owner of Watcombe House a 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. In1873 when Queen Victoria was presented with and accepted a pair of Watcombe water bottles as a birthday present from Baroness Burdett-Coutts. The success of the pottery was guaranteed when given the Royal Warrant. The Royal Watcombe Pottery closed in 1962.
Other beds of suitable clay were found around the area and many 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.
This 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.
Some for the holiday makers, tea sets and motto ware.
The Lemon and Crute pottery on the corner of Trumlands Road and Teignmouth Road started by Harry Crute and Tom Lemon producing beautifully decorated pieces with flowers, butterflies and birds. After Tom Lemon left the partnership in 1926 the pottery was renamed the Daison Art Pottery.
Harry Crute’s hand can be recognised for his particular
signature of a fernleaf on his pots.
Three examples of Lemon and Crute. Long park also made a similar purple design.
Harry Crute along with Henry ‘Harry’ Birbeck were possibly the best decorators of their day.
The Barton Pottery producing art ware in bright blue, seagulls or moonlight scenes were a specialty.
Longpark just off the old Newton Road was famous for it’s Cockerel pattern.
Babbacombe Pottery was founded in 1952 and produced mottoware and contemporary designs, the pottery closed in 2002.