Doulton, along with Mintons and Copelands, was one of the great English potteries founded in the 19th Century, competing with the longer-established firms of Staffordshire. Originally founded in Vauxhall by John Doulton and John Watts in 1815, they later established themselves at Lambeth, where there was a long tradition of pottery-making. In 1846 Henry Doulton, son of John Doulton, started a production of drainpipes and similar items in stoneware, and in 1866 the production of art pottery was commenced. Most of the workers were former students of the Lambeth School of Art, and unusually, Doulton encouraged them to sign their work and give the objects more of an individual and less of a factory feel to them:
The artists, nearly all ladies, have been allowed and indeed to a certain extent encouraged to develop in their own way whatever gifts for colour or design they may possess.'
'Women are always larely employed at Doulton for their patience, finger dexterity and deftness'Among the many who worked there were (among the ladies) Catherine Sparkes (wife of the founder of the Lambeth School of Art), Miss L. Watt (tile pictures), Miss Esther Lewis (paintings of modern scenery), Miss F. Lewis, Miss Crawley (Persian style ware) and the well-known Barlow sisters (Sgraffito). Among the men were Mr Bone, John Bread, Landry and most importantly, George Tinworth, who produced figural and sculptural work. Two of the Martin Brothers also worked there for a time.
Doulton Ware derived from the original pipework production - stoneware with a salt glaze. In this production, salt was added to the wares at high temperature. The other main production was Lambeth Faience, made from 1872 onwards, where vitrifiable colours were added to biscuit ware (i.e. after a first firing), and the articles dipped into glaze and then refired. This fine ware was ideal for painting, and a large output included typically floral, landscape and figural work. Doultons also revived Flemish and German style pottery, and made much terracotta and a cream-coloured Queen's ware, originally manufactured by Wedgwood. The Doulton ware was produced on the wheel, and the 'manufacturing techniques' such as moulding from compressed powdered clay, were used only for tile-making.
Part of the Lambeth factory of Doulton survives in Lambeth on Black Prince Road, close to the Tate Gallery. Examples of Doulton ware can be seen in many important collections, for example the Victoria and Albert Museum. Henry Willett was one of the great collectors of pottery, and much of his collection, including Doulton ware, is on show in the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery.
A variety of buildings were faced or entirely clad in Doultonware - on these pages, we might mention the Turkey Cafe and Coronation building in Leicester (see the walk there).
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