William James Neatby (1860-1910)

Decorative head by Neatby, Birmingham

The arts and crafts ceramic sculptor and artist W. J. Neatby is best known for his designs for the tiles in Harrods food hall. His work is fairly widespread, as decorative tilework and architectural sculpture in terra cotta for Doultons, with which company he had a long association.

Neatby was a native of the town of Barnsley, and trained as an architect, but became a craft worker, as well as tiles and sculpture, carrying out designs in metalwork, enamelling, painted murals, stained glass and furniture. He died in High Wycombe at a relatively young age.

In London, apart from his work for Harrods, just off Victoria Street at the Parliament Square end is Great Smith Street/Abbey Orchard Street, wherein is the remnants of Orchard House, with a terra cotta frieze of peacocks and apple trees by him. His too are the demons high up on nos. 54-55 Cornhill. Elsewhere, he designed the tiles and terra cotta for some beautiful arcades: the New Arcade in Birmingham, the Royal Arcade in Norwich, and the Emporium Arcade in Northampton. As well, his is the Turkey Café in Leicester, the Everard Building in Bristol, and what sounds very nice, though I have not seen it, the New Palace Theatre in Union Street, Plymouth.

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