A Potted History for Hornsea has gone online

Tue, 03 Aug 2021

East Riding Archives have created a new online exhibition to stimulate happy memories of the great days of 'Hornsea Pottery.'

For many of those born and bred in East Yorkshire during the latter half of the 20th Century, the name 'Hornsea Pottery' means much more than its status as a world-famous brand of ceramics; it was an institution.  For local people, and the thousands who came to the seaside town of Hornsea from the mid-1950s through to the 1990s, the pottery works at Edenfield was cast into the cultural mould of East Yorkshire, and a visit to Hornsea was not complete without a visit to Hornsea Pottery itself. 

At its peak there were 350,000 public visitors to the factory, which had opened its doors as a tourist attraction in the mid-1950s.  Over the years this included a garden centre (once the largest in the East Riding); a lake and picnic area; café, aviaries; 'monkey house' and, especially popular with children, was the adventure playground, with remote-control boats, and go-karts! 

These fond memories of family days out, combined with tours of the factory itself to see beautiful articles of pottery being made, give Hornsea Pottery a treasured place in people's hearts, but the story of the business itself, its impact on the global ceramics industry, and prestige of its designs in the antiques world, all combine to make a truly remarkable tale. 

It's a story that saw brothers Colin and Desmond Rawson, with no previous ceramics experience, begin making 'plaster of paris' models  in their kitchen at 4 Victoria Avenue in 1949, to sell to local tourists, and then go on to build their company into a global ceramics giant, with contributions from incredible designers such as John Clappison, Dorothy Marion Campbell, and Alan Luckham.

Now, to help tell that story, East Riding Archives, in association with Hornsea Museum, have produced an online exhibition of images taken from their archive. 

Archivist Sam Bartle said: "The name of 'Hornsea Pottery' is known throughout the world for its ceramic designs and also conjures up fond memories for anyone who remembers it as a visitor attraction.  It's something we're rightly proud of in this region, so we've worked with Carol Harker of Hornsea Museum, in putting together this online exhibition, to remind people of the industrial giant that used to exist in one of our seaside towns."

The online exhibition is a snapshot from the archive, and gives a small potted history of the company, which expanded its operations to include sites at Lancaster and the Greek island of Corfu, before falling on hard times in 1980.  Eventually, the company was wound up in 2000, and the old Edenfield factory site is now better known as the home of Hornsea Freeport retail village. 

Sam Bartle added: "In a way, the retail village is a small homage to the tradition of Edenfield as a place of leisure and recreation in the Hornsea community, and with the new East Riding Archives online exhibition, we can help ensure that the amazing story of Hornsea Pottery is never forgotten."

The online exhibition can be found at:  www.eastridingarchives.co.uk/hornseapottery

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