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The Hornsea Pottery Company Limited
Pottery Manufacturer and Leisure Park
Industry Wholesale and retail pottery.
Fate Receivership
Founded 1949
Defunct 2000
Headquarters Hornsea, England
Key people
Colin Rawson, Desmond Rawson, John Clappison
Products Tableware and fancy goods. On site leisure services.
Number of employees
Maximum 700
Subsidiaries Hornsea Pottery Leisure Park
Hornsea Museum — Pottery Window.

Hornsea Pottery was a business located in the seaside town of Hornsea in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England.


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.


Early years[edit]

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.[1]

Edenfield site[edit]

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.[2] 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.[3] 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.[4] 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.

Lancaster site[edit]

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.[5] 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.[6]


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.[7]


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.[8] Most of the designs are digitised and will be reissued both in the original format and as appropriate consumer goods.


  1. ^ "Hornsea Museum – A modest beginning". www.hornseamuseum.com. Retrieved 30 April 2009. 
  2. ^ "Hornsea Pottery – John Clappison". www.worldcollectorsnet.com. Retrieved 30 April 2009. 
  3. ^ "hornsea-pottery.co.uk". www.hornsea-pottery.co.uk. Retrieved 30 April 2009. 
  4. ^ "Hornsea Museum – The Edenfield site". www.hornseamuseum.com. Retrieved 30 April 2009. 
  5. ^ "Hornsea Tableware.". eastgatenhornsea.com. Retrieved 30 April 2009. 
  6. ^ "Hornsea Pottery". www.worldcollectorsnet.com. Retrieved 30 April 2009. 
  7. ^ "15 jobs lost as Park Rose Ceramics closes". Bridlington Free Press. 27 June 2012. Retrieved 31 January 2013. 
  8. ^ "Hornsea Pottery Intellectual Property Limited". www.creditgate.com. Retrieved 30 April 2009. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Coyle, Pauline (March 2007). Gone to Pot, the Life and Work of John Clappison. Pauline Coyle. ISBN 978-0-9555455-0-4. 
  • Heckford, Brian (March 1998). Hornsea Pottery, 1949–89: Its People, Processes and Products. Hornsea Pottery Collectors & Research Society. ISBN 0-9526828-0-X. 

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hornsea_Pottery — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
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22 news items

Yorkshire Post

Yorkshire Post
Fri, 06 Mar 2015 22:56:15 -0800

She loves ceramics, especially Hornsea Pottery from the John Clappison era. She also has a penchant for Lucite handbags, some from America, which she uses as wall art in her spare room. Her arms are adorned with plastic bangles from the 1930s to 60s ...
Insider Media
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 00:15:00 -0800

Plans to build more than 70 houses on part of the former Hornsea Pottery site in Lancaster have been given the go-ahead. The site, Lancaster Leisure Park, is owned by GB Properties and is currently home to eight attractions, and now part of the site ...

Hull Daily Mail

Hull Daily Mail
Wed, 09 Jul 2014 22:48:45 -0700

HORNSEA Freeport is one of the UK's original factory outlet villages, built on the site of the Hornsea Pottery. Constructed in various phases between 1990 and 1998, the shopping village and leisure destination for more than 20 years. The centre ...

Hull Daily Mail

Hull Daily Mail
Thu, 16 Oct 2014 10:05:07 -0700

Personalities, characters, tools and trades are all presented in imaginative and informative displays, and there are exhibition rooms dedicated to Hornsea Pottery. Honeysuckle Farm, just outside the town, comes to life every spring when there are new ...

Lancashire Evening Post

Lancashire Evening Post
Mon, 15 Dec 2014 00:03:45 -0800

Planning permission has been granted for dozens of homes to be built at Lancaster Leisure Park. Lancaster City Council has approved the plans first mooted 12 years ago. Within the next three years, Miller Homes will build a total of 71 dwellings on the ...
Yorkshire Post
Sun, 14 Aug 2011 22:28:18 -0700

WEDNESDAY AUGUST 10 2011 HORNSEA POTTERIES MUSEUM Carol Harker, curator of the Hornsea Pottery collection at Hornsea Museum, with the Midas range of crockery designed by John Clappison in the early 1980s. A nostalgic weekend featuring ...

Hull Daily Mail

Hull Daily Mail
Thu, 03 Jul 2014 01:54:54 -0700

Hornsea Pottery began as a cottage industry in 1949, and rapidly established a reputation for innovative design and creative manufacturing methods. Hornsea Pottery products were exported to more than 50 countries, and the town, by association, became ...

The Guardian

The Guardian
Mon, 10 Nov 2014 12:13:38 -0800

Orla Kiely Catwalk - London Fashion Week 2013 Models on the catwalk during the Orla Kiely autumn/winter 2013 London fashion week presentation. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA. Sarah Butler · @whatbutlersaw. Monday 10 November 2014 15.13 EST Last ...

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