The South Wales Pottery




A short history of Llanelly Pottery.
By 1831 it had become evident, for legal reasons, thatWilliam Chambers Jnr.would never be able to inherit the Llanelly estate that Sir John Stepney had bequeathed to his father. However, he sought to maintain his commercial interest in the town by a number of means - one of which was to build The South Wales Pottery in 1839. Not being a potter, his impetus for doing so was the recent closure of the Glamorgan Pottery in Swansea, allowing Chamber's the opportunity of aquiring plant, expertise and even a large number of the Glamorgan pottery designs.

William Bryant, previously employed by the Glamorgan pottery, was taken on as manager; and very soon, not only was Llanelly pottery being sold locally but was being exported to various parts of the world including Europe, America and Australia. With the death of his father in 1855, William Chambers left Llanelli and the pottery was sublet to the partnership of Charles Coombs and William Holland. The partnership was short lived however, and William Holland took over the lease himself in 1858. The period of Willaim Holland's association is often considered as the high spot of pottery manufacture at Llanelli; with the best quality "body" being used alongside transfer printing of the highest standard. This culminated in Llanelli pottery being invited to dispaly at the International Exhibition which was held in London in May 1862. This was an honour for a non Staffordshire pottery. David Guest joined William Holland in 1868 and they continued working together until financial difficulties caused the pottery to close in 1875.

The pottery was resurrected by David Guest in 1877 with practical and financial help from Richard Dewsberry, a distant relative. Fashions in the pottery world were changing with the advent of The Arts and Crats Movement, and so, along with their most popular transfer patterns, Llanelly pottery began using brightly-coloured, hand-painted designs, including the cockerel plates which are now so symbolic of Llanelly pottery. Besides the work of the paintresses, a potter's artist called Samuel Shufflebotham arrived from Bristol in 1908 and, apart from the perhaps suprising popularity of cockerel plates, it is his work, with hand-painted illustrations of fruits and wild flowers, that has become the most sought after today. It was his unexpected departure in 1915 that sounded the death knell of Llanelly pottery, and although it stumbled through the war years it finally closed its gates in 1921, and with it came the demise of industrial pottery production in South Wales.

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