A Brief History
Hornsea began, quite literally, as a kitchen table industry when in 1949 Colin and Desmond Rawson started to produce Plaster of Paris giftware at their family home in Hornsea on the East Yorkshire Coast. Their original product was the humble Toby Jug. By 1954 the Hornsea Pottery Company Limited was officially registered, had its own factory and employed 64 locals, growing to 250 staff in 1974. Following its heyday in the following two decades, where up to 3 million pieces of pottery a year were produced, the company went into receivership in 1984 and was finally closed in 2000.
The quality and innovative designs of their pieces led to a number of Design Council Awards. They employed a number of designers including John Clappison whose mug designs are still hugely collectible. One of their most well know designs the “Heirloom” was so popular at one stage that production could not keep up with demand and department stores had to be limited to a quota basis! Through the sixties and seventies Hornsea pottery, particularly the Heirloom and Saffron ranges were featured in the majority of British homes in the kitchen or on the dining table.
A Rough Guide to dating Hornsea.
- 1950s: H symbol or a Horn shape with two “waves” beneath with Hornsea impressed or printed.
- 1960s: a snail like spiral with Hornsea or Made in England impressed or printed.
- Mid 1970s+: two doves and Hornsea England impressed or printed.
Patterns & Designs
Heirloom is available in brown, green and a rarer vibrant blue colour way. Jars are topped with a wooden top and seal. Recognisable diamond repeating pattern.
Bronte is available in brown with a teal blue/green. It has a more circular repeating design.
Saffron has a brown and orange colour way. A classic flower repeating pattern design, reminiscent of the patterns Orla Keirly uses in her modern designs.
Contrast Dining Ware is a very simple brown and white design. Very popular today as it still fits with in a modern decor.
Hornsea kitchen ware and dining services have become increasingly collectible over recent years. Keep an eye out at charity shops and car boot sales, but check carefully for condition, there are plenty out there with chips on them or ill fitting lids! You can find the odd bargain on Ebay but they can be expensive on that site. Alternatively let me know if you’re looking for a particular piece and also look out for full sets from My Vintage Wren. I usually buy mine at auctions so can pass on the great prices I get them at to you.