William Moorcroft (1872-1946), the son of a Staffordshire china painter, began experimenting with his own pottery designs shortly after taking employment as a designer with the James Macintyre & Co pottery in 1897. Moorcroft's artistic designs were quickly recognized for their quality and he began personalising each pottery piece with his initials or signature.
His earliest work, called Aurelian Ware were part transfer and part hand painted pieces that eventually evolved into the 1902 Florian Ware designs that represented the first full expression of his artistic concepts.
Perhaps most famous for his Florian Ware, this pottery is unique in that Moorcroft used the tube lining (slip decoration) method to produce a range of floral and scenic designs in blues, greens yellows and pinks.
In 1912, Moorcroft split from Macintyre and set up a new factory in Cobridge Park, Sandbach Road, taking many of the employees with him. Moorcroft pottery is still made here today.
Backed by a financial arrangement between William and the famous store, Liberty of London, the Moorcroft pottery began to produce wares using the strong and vibrant flambe glazes. This association continued until 1962 when the Moorcroft family bought back Liberty's holding.
The Moorcroft name continued to grow in popularity and the 1920's were exceptional years culminating in the appointment of the Company as Potters to the Queen (Queen Mary, wife of George V) in 1927.
When William Moorcroft died in 1945, his eldest son, Walter, took over management of the pottery and maintained the tradition of quality and innovation. A number of new floral designs and styles helped keep the company prosperous, as public demand remained high during the post war years. These bright and vibrant colours portraying the now famous lily, magnolia and hibiscus designs are eagerly collected today.
From the 1960's fortunes faltered to the point when in 1984 the Moorcroft family sold the bulk of their shares on the open market. Major shareholders attempts to steer the company toward "mass production" failed to bring about the required increases in company value and conversely did much to bring down the reputation of a once great pottery.
The 1990's saw a revival in the company when a new major shareholder brought stability, a new management and designers into the company, taking over from the now retired Walter Moorcroft.
Even today under the stewardship of its young design team, Moorcroft continues to grow and its 100-year reputation for quality, innovation remains undiminished.
Author: Phil Chave URL: www.antiquecollector.uk.com
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