Ashtead potters

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The Ashtead Pottery had a short life, being in business for just 12 years from 1923 until 1935. The factory was in the village of Ashtead, Surrey, England. It was set up with the aim of providing employment for disabled ex-servicemen, mainly from World War I of 1914-18.

The main driving force behind the creation of the company was Sir Lawrence Weaver, a highly influential man of the time. He received much assistance from Bertram Clough Williams-Ellis (of Portmeirion fame) and Stafford Cripps, a prominent politician of the time.

From a very humble beginning with just four workers the company quickly flourished and at its busiest it gave work to up to forty men. Very few of the workers originated from Ashtead, most being recruited from Labour Exchanges throughout the south of England. Hardly any had skills relevant to the pottery industry, although some had artistic or modelling experience. Most found lodgings locally, but later on Purcell Close was built to provide some sheltered housing for those workers with families.

The company produced a vast array of wares, ranging from figures and commemoratives designed by leading artists of the day, including Phoebe Stabler (Poole Pottery and Royal Doulton) and Percy Metcalfe, through to everyday crockery, much of it in bold, bright Art Deco designs. The Ashtead Potters exhibited at the Wembley "British Empire Exhibitions" of 1924 and 1925, having stands where the potters showed off their skills and sold wares, particularly souvenirs bearing the Wembley Lion designed by Frederick Charles Herrick (1887-1970).[1]

Increased competition, due to the Great Depression, and the death of Sir Lawrence led to eventual closure of the pottery works in January 1935. The Victoria Works building remained until 1985 when it was demolished to be redeveloped for a sheltered housing project for the elderly. A plaque in the entrance to the new building; Lime Tree Court, commemorates Ashtead Potters Limited.

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