The Torquay Pottery at Hele Cross evolved a few years after the Torquay Terracotta Company (TTC) closed in 1905. In about 1908 a new pottery was opened on the old TTC site, under the ownership of Enoch Staddon who had previously worked at the Big Bovey pottery. He added more modern equipment and new kilns and employed new staff, eventually 20 or more. Artist decorators Harry Crute and Harry Birbeck were both believed to be working at the pottery some time prior to 1914, another decorator was F. Bowden. Enoch Staddon’s brother in law Vincent Kane did some of the modelling for the moulded items made later on like the various Widecombe Fair souvenirs.
This pottery traded as The Torquay Pottery Co. Ltd., in the early years, although known as the Hele Cross pottery and pottery made between 1908 and 1920 can be found with a rubber stamped, impressed or incised script mark of just Hele Cross or Hele Cross Pottery. Often it is simply marked as Torquay Pottery but by 1924 it had started to use the black rubber stamped mark Royal Torquay Pottery. This name is preferred by collectors to clearly identify it from the generic title used for all the Torquay potteries.
The pottery initially made Scandy and sailboat motto wares, blue ground table ware also vases with applied parrots or pheasants these being marked Hele Cross. The pottery did produce a surprisingly large variety of designs similar to the other local potteries. A design of note is the Brixham trawler sailboats set in front of a low sunset casting shadow across the sea. In later years the pots made were often heavily thrown or moulded, brightly decorated with rather crude but not unattractive patterns. These included applied birds such as parrots and owls on blue grounds. Other patterns included various colourful ‘Jazz Patterns’ and Egyptian scenes. An interesting line was face jugs, sometimes representing the characters from ‘Widecombe Fair’.
Enoch Staddon’s business was very competitive and would often undercut other local potteries. In order to sell at the necessary lower prices they would decorate and glaze leather hard pots that were fired just once, so missing out the usual biscuit firing process and thus reducing production costs. Inevitably this also meant a reduction of quality. In the late 1930’s the business was in decline and following the introduction of wartime restrictions the pottery is believed to have closed in the early 1940’s
Pottery marks and backstamps with dates and more information for this pottery as well as over 250 other Torquay, Devon and West Country potteries can be found in the TPCS Marks Book see ‘Products for Sale’
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