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Local Stories

Part Five; Crown Dorset Art Pottery

User Avatar Nicole Grant 14/05/2021 16:35:24

Reading Eighty-Five Years in Poole, by Aubrey Jenkins (accessed here: http://www.poolehistory.org.uk/node/314749 ) I came across the following:

“Right opposite Pound Street at its junction with Green Road there was the Dorset Art Pottery, it made terracotta and glazed ware.  Some of the terracotta ware was scented and had raffia handles.  A large variety of vases and pots were made.  There was only one kiln, which was in the charge of Mr. Howe who lived Perry Gardens.  My youngest aunt, Miss Laura Lock, was a decorator there, and also plaited the raffia handles.  Other decorators I remember were Miss Gertrude Gillam and Ann Hatchard; Miss Hatchard was a fine singer and sang at many concerts and in choirs.  Miss Lillian Brown was a thrower at the pottery and Lillian was also something different she played in the Poole Ladies Football team at that time.”

I love discovering more about all the potteries which have been established in Poole over the years and thought that I would have a dig into the history of this one, right in the heart of Poole.

In January 1905 the Pottery Gazette described Poole as being of interest to the potter because:

“It is situated on the confines of that interesting part of Dorset known as the Isle of Purbeck, from whence comes the well-known Dorset pottery clays; while around Poole itself are found many deposits of valuable pottery and stoneware clays.”

“The existence of Poole Harbour enables the clay quarry owners and miners to ship their clay […] at a cheap rate, while it also enables coal to be imported cheaply into Poole.  There are several potteries in and about Poole which work up the local deposits.  These clays are of a very fine quality.” (Collard the Honiton and Dorset Potter, p52)

It was around this time that Charles Collard was looking to relocate from Torquay and set up a pottery of his own.  Maybe he read this description, as he established the Crown Dorset Art Pottery in Poole in March 1905.  He bought numbers 21 and 23 Green Road and converted the residential properties into a pottery.

“A long two-storied workshop was erected at the back of the property, behind the two houses; from the back windows of which one could look out over Poole harbour and a backwater which ran behind the buildings.  […] The ground floor of this building was fitted out with potters’ wheels for it was here that the pots were to be thrown and the first floor was to be used for decorating.  The entrance to the pottery was marked by two very large wooden gates, which later bore the words ‘Crown Dorset Art Pottery.” (Collard the Honiton and Dorset Potter, p53)

The pottery had a lodge at the entrance for the caretaker, showrooms, a general office, and Collard had his own private office and workshop at the back where he decorated and experimented with glaze.  At the back there were also drying sheds and kilns.

Initially the pottery was staffed with boys from the local Technical School and experienced men.  However, after 1911 girls were also employed for motto scratching and decorating.  “Collard liked to employ young people, trying to help them get on in life […] the work was varied, and an individual could develop his artistic abilities in a friendly, happy atmosphere.  Collard being more of a father figure than employer much of the time.” (Collard the Honiton and Dorset Potter, p57)

In 1912 there were 25 workers at the pottery, men occupied the ground floor of the workshop and there were about 15 girls fixing handles and decorating.  “The were all local girls in their early teens […] trained personally by Collard.”  Rhoda Stephens remembered Collard; “Well I can honestly say I have never met a more gentlemanly man than Mr Collard, he was one of the kindest and best employers anybody knew.”(Collard the Honiton and Dorset Potter, p81)  Collard paid for the girls to go to school, two afternoons a week above the old free library in Poole.

Effie Knight recalled working 8am to 5:30pm and reminisced about a song the young men would sing outside the pottery waiting for their girls to finish for the day:

“Pottery girls, pottery girls,

High legged boots and their hair all in curls,

Eyes like violets, teeth like pearls,

None to compare to the Art Pottery girls.” (Collard the Honiton and Dorset Potter, p82)

When Collard started the business, the Crown Dorset Art Pottery was original in all design, Collard himself designed most of the decoration and continually experimented with new colours, glaze, and design.  Collard made all his own paints and glazes:

“The glazes were very often tinted in various shades, usually ranging from yellow to green, and were particularly bright and hard thus enhancing the colours.  The paints were also very attractive […] some, especially the blues and yellows had a transparent quality.  A dark green with a yellowish tinge and an attractive browny orange were two other typical Dorset colours, seen particularly on the cottage ware.” (Collard the Honiton and Dorset Potter, p58)

With the onset of the First World War and the effect on the pottery, Collard sold the business in 1915.  George Paine carried on the pottery, but it was formally wound up in 1927.  In the later years former employees stayed on but noted a change in atmosphere, over the years the focus also changed from pottery to perfume and pot-pourri in fancy containers. (This change had begun in 1913 under Collard.)

When the pottery closed the site remained vacant.  Just before World War Two number 21 and 23 Green Road were demolished and six houses, known as Green Close, built where they had stood. 

The image is of a piece of pottery from the Crown Dorset Art Pottery which is in the collection of Poole Museum Service.

The book
Collard the Honiton and Dorset Potter, by Carol and Chris Cashmore, 1983 has been a great source of information and is recommended to anybody who wants to know more.

Brief histories of the pottery can be found here:




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