The History of Manor Ware

Manor Ware pottery was first produced from an idea by three men in 1948, Derek Truscott, Anthony Brian Gibbs and John Stanley Cooper, in a small building in Bath. The firm produced small plaster cast models and grew into one of the largest manufacturers of this type of souvenir in the country.

The small company moved to Newton Abbot in 1949 and one of their earliest pieces was 'Dolly's Tea Set' which consisted of a set of plates and imitation food, laid out for presentation purposes on a card.

In 1952 they relocated to a sixteenth century listed building in Newton Abbot called Manor House, where the mass production of souvenir pottery began in earnest; and the items produced were christened 'Manor Ware' after the house. Manor Works was at 63 Wolborough Street. They were sold from souvenir shops from hundreds of British holiday resorts and exports have been found from places such as Ireland, Canada and Australia, and some items were exported without place names on. It is also believed that some places, such as Eire, actually copied items. Production was running at around 125,000 pieces a year.

In 1960 the firm moved again to a purpose built factory at Brunel Road, Newton Abbot. The introduction of mechanisation coupled with stick-on transfers to replace the previously embossed hand painted pieces saw production rise to over 1,000,000 pieces a year. By the late 1970s cheap imported souvenirs were flooding the market and by 1987, after several ineffective cutbacks, the factory was forced to close.

John Cooper was one of the directors of the firm and was also the main designer and his initials JC can be found on some of the pieces. There are over 500 known designs and another designer to have initials on pieces was Stuart Andrew Royston (SAR). John Cooper apparently laid out the basic design and Stuart Royston completed them.

Jane Lake who worked for the firm from 1953 to 1956 used to work in the paint room. She was transferred to the dipping department which involved dipping the pottery in a tank of lacquer, putting each item on a spike to drain - a hundred items in all - then taking them off one by one and wiping the bottom and transferring onto a metal wire tray and putting in a large oven. This process was repeated twice to get a good finish.

The 1978 Order Form quotes the following prices for match related items:

     Matchbox Holder  £3.64 per dozen     Retail Price 50p each
 Boot Match Holder £4.36 per dozen Retail Price 60p each
 Seagull Match Barrel £4.36 per dozen Retail Price 60p each
 View Matchbox Holder £5.82 per dozen Retail Price 80p each

Australia, Canada and Ireland