The history of the Poole Pottery can be traced back to 1873, when Jesse Carter purchased the East Quay Pottery in Poole from James Walker, after that gentleman's pottery business went bankrupt. Jesse Carter's background was as a successful builders merchant in Surrey, but he believed that the architectural ceramics business offered a profitable future and determined to put all his efforts into this. Moving to the area with his family, two of what were to play a major role in the future of the pottery, he began to work. By the 1880s, Carter & Company had become very well established locally, overshadowing some longer established local companies and beginning to encroach on the territory of some of the well known Staffordshire potteries.
At this time, the output of the Poole Pottery was revolved around decorative tiling and other architectural pottery, such as fire surroundings. Carter & Co's wide range of decorative tiles were being widely used in shops, pubs and hotels, as well as for advertising and mosaic flooring.
Growth of Decorative Output
Following Carter's death in 1901, control of the pottery fell to his two sons, Charles and Owen. Over the next twenty years, the output of the company changed to include a growing variety of decorative wares, and the end result of this was the formation of Carter, Stabler & Adams in 1921 as a subsidiary of Carter & Company.
Harold and Phoebe Stabler and John and Truda Adams brought between them a wealth of creative experience in design, modeling and decoration and the mission of the CSA company was to produce decorative and table wares from the East Quay works in Poole.
Over the next forty years, the Carter, Stabler & Adams company proved very successful, producing a very wide variety of decorative and domestic wares. One of the most easily recognizable and successful CSA styles is that of the red earthenware body with a white slip ground and a clear glaze.
From Red Earthenware to Freeform
This style was used until the mid-thirties, when CSA moved to using white clay bodies, probably because they were more suitable for tableware than the red earthenware bodies were. The decorative pieces were all hand painted with patterns that were large the work of Truda Adams. These colorful and stylish patterns played a key part in the success of CSA and have endured superbly, still looking fresh and attractive today. CSA's output during the 20s and 30s also included a range of skilfully modeled pieces, often by Harold Stabler or John Adams. Today these models have become highly collectable and hard to find in perfect condition.
As the nation recovered from WWII, and pottery production began again, the ranges of white earthenware that had been so successful in the past were now seen to be almost unmanageably complex. These were now rationalized, to become known as traditional ware, with three levels of decoration – elaborate, medium and simple.
Just as in their time, the Truda Adams designs had captured the Art Deco style of the 1920s and 30s, something new was needed to reflect the new styles of the 1950s. Several new ranges were introduced, but by far the most striking and successful were the Free Form range of patterns and shapes. Poole Pottery freeform was distinguished by a very modern new range of shapes, mixing angles and curves to create completely new shapes, as well as variations on more traditional shapes.
A New Generation of Talent
Alfred Read and Guy Sydenham were the driving force behind this range of shapes, and many of the early freeform patterns were also Alfred Read designs, with both Read and Sydenham being responsible for throwing the new shapes. Especially notable were the decorating talents of Ruth Pavely and Ann Read. Ruth Paveli was Head of Painting at the Poole Pottery for many years, and her mark can be seen on some of the finest Poole Pottery pieces of the 1950s, as can Ann Read's.
Freeform proved to be just what the doctor ordered for the Poole Pottery, and was very successful through the 1950s. Today, fans of 1950s design are keen to collect Poole Freeform shapes and the better examples of these pieces command strong values.
The Launch of Delphis & Aegean Ware – Studio Pottery From A Factory?
In the early 1960s a new range of studio ware was released – the Delphis range. This featured bold, colorful designs on new shapes created by Poole's new star designers, Robert Jefferson and Tony Morris. The Delphis range proved popular and once more in keeping with the spirit of the times and remained in production, with many variations, until the mid-1970s.
Delphis ware was followed by Aegean ware. Designed by Leslie Elsden, it provided a fitting culination to his 50 year career at Poole Pottery. Much of the Aegean range was decorated using either the silhouette or sgraffito techniques, and the extensive use of browns, oranges and yellows made the Aegean pieces a very distinct character. While some shapes were shared with the Delphis and other ranges, both Delphis and Aegean ware have very distinct and easily recognizable characters.
The Future For Poole Pottery
Poole Pottery sadly went bankrupt for a second and final time in December 2006, and although its remains have found a buyer, it looks like pottery production in Poole has probably come to an end. Fortunately, today's collectors are lucky enough to have a huge legacy of pottery to draw upon, which will hopefully be preserved for future generations.