Elijah Brain and Co Ltd


Location and period of operation:

E Brain and Co Ltd





Manufacturers of porcelain & china at the Foley China Works, Foley, Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent, England.
  • Elijah Brain and his partner G. Hawker took over the business and works from Robinson's in December 1884 but retained the name and mark of Robinson & Son until 1903 when they traded under the name E. Brain & Co. (The London Gazette, 9 Jan 1885). 

  • In 1908 the works were extended - "E. Brain & Co., china manufacturers, of Fenton, have just completed considerable alterations and extensions at their pottery, and, incidentally, have installed two of the new china scouring machines with excellent results." (Pottery Gazette, 1 May 1908)

  • At some time Elijah's son William Henry Brain joined the business as a partner. 

  • Elijah Brain died in October 1910. Recent Wills: Mr. Elijah Brain, china manufacturer, of E. Brain & Co., a former president of the English China Manufacturers’ Association, who died on Oct. 23, aged 68 years, left estate of the gross value of £7,909, with net personalty £1,241. (PG Feb 1911). See obituary

  • In October 1912 George Thomas Hawker left the partnership which was continued by William Henry Brain. (The London Gazette, 8 Nov 1912). 

    • "Under the direction of W. H. Brain the business continued to prosper and expand. Especially was this the case perhaps in those spacious years before the first World War, when he introduced new decorative styles which created such a demand that a minor revolution in design was effected within the trade, the lead thus given being copied by many other firms." 

  • c. 1924 continued ill-health compelled W. H. Brain to semi-retirement, "but he still maintained a keen interest in the good name of the firm and the welfare of his employees".

  • In 1931 William H. Brain's son Eustace William Brain joined the company and a few years later joined the board of directors. 

  • For the period of the Second World War E. Brain & Co were designated as a nucleus firm under the Wartime Concentration Scheme and continued production. They also produced ware for the concentrated business of Jackson & Gosling Ltd. (A Handbook of British Pottery Manufacturers 1900-2010, Michael Perry). 

  • The 1947 Pottery Gazette Reference Book records J. H. Woolf and E. W. Brain as joint managing directors. The works manager was T. H. F. Shirley. 

  • "Considerable alterations and necessary improvements have been made to the factory since the war. An electric tunnel kiln for firing decorated wares has been put in as well as a gas tunnel oven for glost firing. By the middle of 1956 the factory will be smokeless. The working conditions have also been greatly improved, bringing the factory into line with up-to-date requirements."

  • The 1956 Pottery Gazette Reference Book records Eustace William Brain as chairman and managing director the other director was T. H. F. Shirley.

  • In 1958 E. Brain & Co took over the name and goodwill of Coalport China Ltd. and started to transfer the business to the Foley China Works.

  • From 1963 E. Brain & Co traded solely under the Coalport name and use of the Brain name and marks ceased. 

  • In 1967 Josiah Wedgwood & Sons acquired the share capital of E. Brain & Co., including the Coalport subsidiary. 


Formerly: Robinson & Son

Subsequently: Coalport



The London Gazette 
9th January 1885

Notice of the dissolution of the Robinson partnership - 
the business to be continued by 
Elijah Brain and William Hawker
The name Robinson and Son being retained

The London Gazette 
8th November 1912

Notice of the dissolution of the partnership between 
William Henry Brain and George Thomas Hawker 




Peacock Pottery
E. Brain & Co., Foley China Works
Fenton, Staffs

Pottery Gazette - November 1906  



The Foley China Works of E Brain & Co. Ltd.
The Foley China Works of E Brain & Co. Ltd.
Pottery factory exterior taken at the Foley China Works, Fenton
Photo - date unknown but pre-1978 
© Staffordshire Past Track

- click for more information on The Foley China Works -


there were  5 different companies 
operating in this area which
hade 'Foley' in their name

- click for more -




Initials and marks used on ware for identification:

E B & Co
'L' stands for Longton

E B & Co

'F' stands for Fenton (or Foley)

the factory was located in a district called 'Foley'
it was on the border of the two towns
Longton and Fenton - most marks had 'L'
but occasionally 'F' was used, there
was no difference in the factory 

Early printed mark 1903-05

'Established 1850' refers to
the previous company 'Robinson & Co'
on the same site



click below for more information:-

Foley China Works 

examples of 
E Brain ware

examples of 
E Brain marks 

1956 Article on the Brain pottery.



BRAIN, Elijah (1842-1910), pottery manufacturer, Foley, Fenton. 

Elijah Brain was born in Fenton in 1842. He was educated at Fenton and Stoke National Schools and later attended the Fenton and Stoke Athenaeums to improve his education. 

He began work as a jigger and mould runner at the Foley Pottery of Baker and Co., After leaving Barker & Co. he joined Robinson and Son (who operated the adjoining Foley China Works) and eventually became chief cashier and a partner in Robinson and Son. 

From 1885 Elijah Brain took over the business and was in partnership with A. B. Jones and W. Hawker. 

Brain served as president of the English China Manufacturers Association. He was elected to the Fenton Local Board of Health in1855 and was first chairman of the Fenton Urban District Council in1894 and again in 1897. 

He was instrumental in securing the erection of a bridge at Fenton railway station in place of the level crossing, and was one of the founders of the Fenton Nursing Institution. He was a strong Liberal and an advocate of tariff reform. 

A member of the Fenton Education Committee from its inception and of the committee which helped to establish the Hanchurch Holiday Home pioneered by Millicent Duchess of Sutherland.

From 1875 Elijah Brain was a conductor of the Mount Tabor chapel choir and was also one of the founders of the Stoke Philharmonic Society. In 1878 he inaugurated the Fenton Children's Religious Services, with an annual festival at Fenton town hall. He served on the Stoke upon Trent school board. In 1910 he failed to gain election to the federated council of Stoke on Trent, trailing Phillip Elliot and John Shaw Coddard. 

By his wife Mary Julia he had two daughters and a son. He died on 23 October 1910 and was buried at Fenton cemetery. 

Sources: Staffordshire Sentinel 24 October 1910 (obit.). People of the Potteries. London Gazette



Mr. Elijah Brain obituary


Mr. Elijah Brain obituary - The Pottery Gazette 1 November 1910

WE sincerely regret to announce the death of Mr. Elijah Brain, senior partner in the firm of E. Brain & Co., china manufacturers, Longton. A short time ago Mr. Brain underwent a rather serious operation, but he was thought to have recovered from the effects of it, and his friends all expected to see him at business again very shortly. However, on Friday, Oct. 21, Mr. Brain had a relapse of such a serious character that he passed away with comparative suddenness at his residence 31, Blurton-road, Fenton, in the early hours on Sunday morning, Oct. 23. His son saw him on Saturday night and left without any serious apprehension. He was, however, summoned early on Sunday morning, and, though he lives near, and hastened without staying to dress properly, he found his father had passed away just before his arrival. 

Mr. Brain is one more in the long list of pottery manufacturers who have attained success in their industry by self-denying, strenuous individual efforts. He had not many advantages in youth, as it was necessary that he should assist his parents by commencing work when very young. This was before the days of school boards, and there was no authority to prevent very young boys being employed on works. He was engaged by Baker & Co., of Fenton, as a mould runner, and remained in their service in various capacities for thirty years, at the end of which he was cashier to the firm. In 1885, in conjunction with Mr. A. B. Jones and Mr. W. Hawker, he commenced business as a china manufacturer. In the course of time changes in the partnership took place, and eventually Mr. Brain became sole proprietor. In recent years his son, Mr. William Brain, and Mr. J. T. Hawker joined him, and the business has since been carried on under the trade name of E. Brain & Co. The deceased was enthusiastic in trade matters and devoted much time to the consideration of questions not only affecting his own business, but the trade generally. He took a great interest in the English China Manufacturers’ Association, of which he was president for several years. He was also a member of the Council of the North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce, and took active part in the proceedings.

Four years ago Mr. Brain undertook a memorable journey in which he covered 156,000 miles in the pursuit of health, pleasure, and business. In The Pottery Gazette for December, 1906, there is an interesting account of an interview with which Mr. Brain favoured one of our representatives, and at which he recounted his remarkable experiences during his six months’ absence. His account of his tour through Australia is particularly interesting from a trade point of view, in the light of subsequent happenings. Without entering into details, we may say that Mr. Brain’s experience in this tour changed his views on the fiscal question.

The deceased took a very active part in the public life of Fenton, and was a member of successive public bodies, and was the first chairman of the Fenton Urban District Council. As a member of the Council he visited Havre to inspect the system of tramways in operation there. He was one of the committee which founded the annual treat to the old people of Fenton, which is now a permanent institution. He took a prominent part in the religious life of the district, and will be long remembered for his connection with the Children’s Festival Services. He also did an important work among the poorest children in the town, about three hundred of them were brought together on Sunday evenings when Mr. Brain conducted services appropriate to them.

Amongst other duties undertaken by the deceased, he was a commissioner under the Potteries Stipendiary Act, and a vice-chairman of the Joint Hospital Board. He was also a subscriber to the North Staffordshire Discharged Prisoners’ Aid Society, and a member of the committee through whose efforts the Hanchurch Holiday Home came into being. The Llanfairfechan Home had a great supporter in Mr. Brain, the interests of which institution he served as a member of its committee. He was also a member of the old Stoke School Board.

1 Nov 1910


Mr. E Brain


IN our last issue we gave a short obituary notice of the late Mr. Elijah Brain, the founder of the firm of E. Brain & Co., china manufacturers, Longton. We were unable to obtain a photograph of the deceased in time to reproduce it to accompany our notice, and the death of Mr. Brain took place too near the end of the month to enable us to make any other reference to the funeral than to give the date of it. The above is an excellent reproduction of a photograph lent us by a member of the family. 

There was a large assembly of relatives, social friends, business acquaintances, and representatives of many public bodies at the funeral service held in the Methodist Church, Fenton, on the afternoon of Wednesday, Oct. 26. The interment took place immediately after at the Fenton Cemetery, and, in addition to those present at the service, the concourse of people attending it was a striking testimony of the esteem in which the deceased was held for his personal worth, and for his many public and philanthropic services. 

Amongst those who followed the members of the family in the procession were many pottery manufacturers, Mr. F. Findlay the London representative of the firm, Major Cecil Wedgwood D.S.O., the Mayor, and Alderman F. Green the Deputy-Mayor, representing the Federated Council, representatives of the Fenton Education Committee, of the China Manufacturers’ Association, of the Fenton Building Society, and of the local bowling club. The trustees and leaders of the Church and Sunday school with which the late Mr. Brain had been long associated were also present. 

In the address delivered at the service in the church, reference was made to the labours of the deceased for twenty-four years in connection with the municipal, educational, and philanthropic institutions, and to the unselfish service he had rendered for fifty years, as Sunday-school teacher and superintendent. 

A large number of the workpeople of the Foley Works joined the procession from the church to the cemetery. We tender our sympathy to the widow and family in their great sorrow.

The Pottery Gazette - 1 Dec 1910




Questions, comments, contributions? email: Steve Birks