Moorcroft (Ltd )
Location and period of operation:
Moorcroft (Ltd )
1956 article on Moorcroft
Initials used on ware for identification:
Article from The Sentinel Newspaper, 17-04-2001
180 new jobs at pottery
An expanding pottery firm is to create 180 new jobs and double production over the next four years after building a £3 million factory to target America.
Burslem-based Moorcroft, which currently employs 250 staff, expects the purpose-built 30,000 sq ft plant in Nile Street to supply its branded products to the US and Canadian markets.
Chairman Hugh Edwards today said the investment could lead to even greater things as it will only satisfy a fraction of foreign demand for the company's brand.
Mr Edwards said: "Our research shows that there is potential for us to sell up to three or four times the amount in the United States that we sell in the UK.
"That means that even if we got the new factory up to capacity within four years, we could expand our operation yet further. And we have the space to do that."
Work on the site, which will double the company's existing 28,000 sq ft manufacturing space, started last March.
The firm received £634,000 from the Government's Single Regeneration Budget (SRB) in addition to its own investment.
However, the development needed the transformation of the brownfield site, which was blighted by three mineshafts.
Now the plant is complete, Moorcroft plan to recruit new staff in a "controlled programme" to ensure the success of the venture.
Moorcroft produces a unique product by applying glazes directly on to wet clay, rather than after a first firing.
He said: "It takes between 12 and 18 months to train up our painters and tubeliners — who pipe wet clay on to the wares to guide the metallic paints — so we will be effectively drawing workers from our domestic production.
"It's therefore important that we control our expansion.
"Over the years we have built up our customer base in the UK while having absolutely zero exports.
"We have got to the point now where it is now time to find new markets in the US and Canada.
"This year we made a forecast of volume to export £500,000 of products in the first 12 months, we have surpassed that in three months."
Moorcroft has relied on the methods devised by its founder William Moorcroft for the last century.
William first developed the designs that have become famous world-wide when he worked at the Washington Works owned by James Macintyre in Burslem.
Using a tubelining technique, he applied designs from a hand-held bag. Then, using metallic oxide paints he decorated the raw clay before firing it twice.
By 1900, William was producing his own designs which after 1912, when the Liberty Chain bought the company, received global exposure. The company moved to the Sandbach Road works at Cobridge the same year.
He stayed in control of the company until his death in 1945 when the firm passed to his son, Walter.
Walter bought outright control of the firm from Liberty in 1962, running the firm until 1984 when it was sold to the Roper brothers of Churchill China.
But attempts to drag the small art pottery into mass production failed and two years later the firm faced liquidation.
London lawyer Hugh Edwards, who was then working on a book about Moorcroft, together with Richard Dennis and their wives then stepped in to save the firm.
They appointed John Moorcroft as managing director to act as an ambassador for the company and boosted annual turnover from around £245,000 to the current five million pounds plus.
In 1992, Hugh Edwards become chairman, a year later appointing Rachel Bishop as its new designer.
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