|Former type||Pottery Manufacturer and Leisure Park|
|Industry||Wholesale and retail pottery.|
|Key people||Colin Rawson, Desmond Rawson, John Clappison|
|Products||Tableware and fancy goods. On site leisure services.|
|Subsidiaries||Hornsea Pottery Leisure Park|
The pottery was founded in 1949 in a small terraced house by brothers Colin and Desmond Rawson with initial funding from a friend and local business man, Philip Clappison. The factory's earliest pieces were mostly designed by Colin Rawson, these included Character Jugs and posy vases with attached animal figures. Their products sold well and they moved to larger premises and took on their first employee in 1950.
The continued expansion of the business brought about a move to an even larger site, at Edenfield, in 1954. At this time the business diversified and the Edenfield site became the first theme park in Britain. In 1984 the initial company foundered due to outside forces and financial difficulties and it was bought out in April of that year. Despite its difficulties, the factory continued to produce tableware and ornaments until April 2000 when it went into final receivership. In October 2008, Hornsea Museum in Newbegin, the main street of Hornsea, opened a permanent exhibition of Hornsea Pottery.
In 1949, Desmond and Colin Rawson started a business making plaster of Paris models to sell as souvenirs to tourists who were visiting the seaside town of Hornsea. Both had attended the Batley College of Art but they had no pottery making experience. They worked in the scullery of their kitchen at 4 Victoria Avenue in the town. Initial funding came from a friend and local business man, Philip Clappison. After the purchase of a small kiln they started working with clay. Additional funding was received from Charles Wright, a retired Morecambe hotelier, whose son, Micheal Wright, was working with Desmond on early products. Desmond Rawson's father-in-law Henry Knowles, a solicitor in Morecambe provided not only cash investment but all legal services for the rest of his life.
Their products sold well and by 1950 they took on their first employee and moved to larger premises at The Old Hall in the Hornsea Market Place. Robert (Bob) Hindle, Desmond's brother-in-law joined the company and provided additional share funding, and his 'straight dealing' policy provided the company with an excellent sales directorship for over 20 years.
In the mid-1950s, the Rawson brothers started to recognise the potential of Philip's son, John Clappison, a student at Hull College of Art who produced the stylish, contemporary Elegance range of wares which are much in demand with collectors today. In 1954 the business moved to the site of the defunct Hornsea Brick and Tile Works. At this time the Pottery also employed other noted designers such as Dorothy Marion Campbell and Alan Luckham as modeller. In 1967, the factory started to produce full ranges of tableware, the first being the John Clappison-designed Heirloom, followed by his Saffron and Bronte patterns.In the 1970s, the Queensbury-Hunt partnership became involved in Hornsea tableware design, their Contrast and Concept ranges proving popular. Though innovative, these products they were not always practical in use. By 1974 the Edenfield Works was employing 250 people and turning out three million pieces a year. From the mid-1950s, the Hornsea Pottery business was becoming more diverse. There were factory tours but beside being able to see the pottery being made it soon became 'a Pottery in a Garden' a day out for all the family. As facilities improved to attract more people to buy the company's very popular products it became larger and included a popular leisure site with a number of activities for children. These included a model village, birds of prey exhibition, car museum, a large adventure playground in the style of a wooden fort, remote control boats and go-karts. For adults, there were several cafés, the Hornsea Pottery shop and factory tour and, towards the end of the factory's lifetime, a number of shops which turned the site into an American style outdoor factory outlet mall, selling clothing and other items at reduced prices.
During the 1960s, Hornsea Pottery had become the biggest employer in the town and Hornsea Pottery had become so successful that the need for increased production called for expansion. Plans for further development at Hornsea were frustrated by local government objections, so locations outside the town were sought. A number of sites for the second factory were considered and Lancaster was chosen and the new 'Pottery in a Garden' opened in 1974. Unfortunately, there were many teething problems and it took factory workers longer to train to the higher standards required for the newly introduced brown Vitramic body. Despite this shaky start the first three ranges produced at the Lancaster factory received Design Centre Awards and with them Hornsea Pottery enhanced its worldwide reputation.The Lancaster site only lasted for twelve years. Despite overcoming the early difficulties and its eventual profit making, it could not stand up against the economic climate of the time.It closed in 1988.
Hornsea tablewares were sold worldwide for over 20 years and all tableware ranges were accepted for inclusion on the Design Centre Index before entering production. At one stage production of the Heirloom tableware soon could not keep up with the demand and department stores had to be limited on a quota basis.
In 1979, the number of employees rose to 460, and by 1981, it peaked at 700. However, this state of affairs did not last and between 1978 and 1982, profits plummeted. A team from the National Westminster Bank was sent to review the management and appoint a new managing director. Anthony Kusmirek was appointed but was dismissed within three months and The National Westminster Bank then appointed Gordon Barker as managing director and nominated a new management team. It was during this time that John Clappison’s unique Strata trinket boxes and his People series were a produced. John was made redundant on 31 December 1984, subsequently gaining employment with Royal Doulton. The problems continued and in April 2000 the National Westminster Bank sent the receivers.The pottery factory no longer exists, but on its site is the retail outlet shopping village known as Hornsea Freeport.
Following its dissolution, several of the redundant managers and some key staff were able to relocate to the nearby Park Rose Pottery, which is just outside the sea-side town of Bridlington. These staff may have originally started with several design ideas taken from the old Hornsea Pottery, but they now produce and sell a successful range of designer ware in their own right. Park Rose Pottery itself ceased to trade in June 2012 as reported in the Bridlington Free Press of 27 June 2012.
Over 2,000 pieces from the pottery's beginnings in 1949 to 2000 are on display in two converted 18th century cottages in Hornsea Museum in Newbegin, the main street of Hornsea. Geoffrey Hindle, (Jolley Geoff); son of Bob Hindle, the driving force behind the very successful sales organisation; also nephew of Desmond Rawson, has spent many hours recording both of their life's work, donated all the family's pieces of pottery and many photographs to help the collection's guardians Carol Harker and Museum founder Dr Stuart Walker tell the full story of the company's success and eventual demise.
The Intellectual Properties of Hornsea Potteries including all the designs and trade marks were acquired at the time of receivership by Hornsea Potteries Intellectual Properties Ltd. Most of the designs are digitised and will be reissued both in the original format and as appropriate consumer goods.
- "Hornsea Museum – A modest beginning". www.hornseamuseum.com. Retrieved 30 April 2009.
- "Hornsea Pottery – John Clappison". www.worldcollectorsnet.com. Retrieved 30 April 2009.
- "hornsea-pottery.co.uk". www.hornsea-pottery.co.uk. Retrieved 30 April 2009.
- "Hornsea Museum – The Edenfield site". www.hornseamuseum.com. Retrieved 30 April 2009.
- "Hornsea Tableware.". eastgatenhornsea.com. Retrieved 30 April 2009.
- "Hornsea Pottery". www.worldcollectorsnet.com. Retrieved 30 April 2009.
- "15 jobs lost as Park Rose Ceramics closes". Bridlington Free Press. 27 June 2012. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
- "Hornsea Pottery Intellectual Property Limited". www.creditgate.com. Retrieved 30 April 2009.
- Heckford, Brian (March 1998). Hornsea Pottery, 1949–89: Its People, Processes and Products. Hornsea Pottery Collectors & Research Society. ISBN 0-9526828-0-X.
- Coyle, Pauline (March 2007). Gone to Pot, the Life and Work of John Clappison. Pauline Coyle. ISBN 978-0-9555455-0-4.