The Watcombe Pottery existed for nearly one hundred years during which they produced a wonderful and varied amount of pottery much of it unique but also in the style and trends of Torquay and of the times. It was in the grounds of Watcombe House near Torquay that the fine red Devon clay was first discovered about 1865. This prompted the owner a G. P. Allen to establish the Watcombe Terracotta Clay Company off Teignmouth Road, St. Marychurch in 1869 with Charles Brock a Staffordshire potter to train the local workers and supervise the experience Staffordshire ones like William Samuel Bond.
Classical styles of the period like terracotta busts, figures, urns and jugs were produced first, undoubtedly some of these and later works of enamel decorated terracotta were influenced by the designs of Dr. Christopher Dresser. W.C. Lawton modelled some of the terracotta busts and William Higginbottom was a notable turner of terracotta vases and urns. Later moulded jardinières, novelty and grotesque items followed with highly decorated glazed art wares following to keep up with fashions, some being marked as ‘Watcombe Porcelain‘. Some of the notable artists and decorators who worked at the pottery over the years were Edward Middleton, Alexander Fisher (senior and junior), James Skinner, Harry Birbeck, Harry Crute, Bill Critchlow, Peter Giles, and John Barker. In 1901 the Watcombe pottery was acquired by Hexter, Humpherson and Co., who also owned the Aller Vale pottery enabling the Watcombe pottery to benefit from the expertise of Aller Vale’s decorators using coloured slips for decoration to produce the popular motto wares for the emerging tourist industry.
For over sixty years the Watcombe pottery continued to produce a great variety of novelty items and other decorative styles reflecting changing fashions. Notable are the decorative jugs and vases with floral designs of Iris and Poppy flowers, the many pigment painted faience scenic wares, both local and of places and buildings around the country. Windmills, Kingfisher, Seagull and wading bird items proved popular as well as the traditional Scandy, Cockerel, Sailboat and Cottage motto wares.
After the Second World War, Watcombe tried to recapture its old markets which include buying up it’s competitor, the Longpark pottery. They introduced Widecombe Fair, Polka Dot and Winter Cottage decorated pottery to their range, but in 1962 was finally forced to close down.
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