The ongoing appeal of Cornishware pottery
Jo Ahern celebrates the ongoing appeal of this classic crockery.
NOTHING says “a cup of tea and a scone” quite like Cornishware pottery, known and loved for its fresh, farmhouse appeal and timeless, classic design.
The pottery site which produced this iconic crockery was actually in Church Gresley in Derbyshire, around
300 miles away from the Cornish coast, and it is said that the business, which became T.G. Green & Co., had its origins in a chance meeting while a certain Mr Green was on honeymoon in Scarborough!
Thomas Goodwin Green, born in Lincolnshire in 1822, did really rather well for himself in Australia after leaving his home in England due to some troubles with matters of the heart.
Twenty years after he left, repeated requests to come home from his one-time love, Mary Tenniel, the sister of the “Punch” and “Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland” illustrator, John Tenniel, saw Green come back to England and – finally – marry Mary.
The couple travelled to Scarborough to take the waters on their honeymoon and it was there that they met Henry Wileman, who would employ Green as manager. Green ran it, becoming the full owner in 1887, buying the business with the help of his sister.
In 1864 the name changed to T.G. Green & Co. and within 30 years the tenacious Thomas had a successful limited company to pass on to his son, Roger, and associate Henry King.
Pottery production had been refined and updated and the crockery patterns and ranges produced were varied and ever-changing.
Then, in the early 1920s, T.G. Green & Co. developed a blue and white banded pottery range called E-blue Banded Ware (“e” for electric). Soon to be known as Cornishware, this range was a notable hit, gracing the shelves in department stores all over the country, including Harrods, and being exported around the world.
Some of the jars in the range were lettered with regular kitchen staples like flour, tea and sugar, but retailers could also request specific lettering for customers and the jars would be “customised” at the factory.
In the Sixties, a young designer called Judith Onions worked her magic on the Cornishware range to update the shape and lines of the pottery, and production also saw the inclusion of yellow, green and red banding alongside the white on the ware. Some of Onions’s designs now grace the gallery in the V&A in celebration of Cornishware’s everyday appeal.
As time went on, the pottery industry fell on harder times, and T.G. Green & Co. stumbled. The business closed its doors in 2007.
All was not lost, though, as Cornishware has many friends and fans. A new company called T.G. Green & Co., formed by “lifelong enthusiasts” Charles Rickards and Paul Burston, and designer and brand consultant Perry Haydn Taylor, is making sure that breakfasts, baking and suppertime can still benefit from that familiar and comforting banded pottery. Cornishware isn’t leaving our tables any time soon!
Understandably, vintage Cornishware is highly sought after by collectors. There were no records kept of the original customised lettering on Cornishware jars and some more unusual wording would be a rarity indeed! n
As popular as ever.