Jersey Pottery was founded in 1946 by brothers Charles and Edward Potter, who saw an opportunity to manufacture and export “British” pottery following a law introduced during WWII which banned the production of decorative ware in the UK but did not apply to Jersey.
Pottery production had ceased in Jersey in the 1880s when the clay from local quarries in St Lawrence was exported in large quantities to Cornwall. The first factory was established on the site of a former ship-building yard close to the sea in Gorey Village.
Purchase by Jones family
A true family business, Jersey Pottery was purchased in 1954 by Clive and Jessie Jones who, with the help of their daughter Carol, set out to transform the business by getting back to basics of making desirable, high quality, fashionable ceramics but for a different market. The business was still exporting ceramics but a decision was taken to target a new customer base, the growing numbers of tourists holidaying in Jersey. Jersey Pottery took the innovative decision to allow visitors into the factory in the hope they would purchase a souvenir of their trip to Jersey.
Colin Jones and Carol Garton managed the business through the heady days of tourism in the 1960s through to the 1990s. Colin, father of the present day owners, left school and went to train in Stoke-on-Trent, taking classes in the technical and managerial aspects of the ceramic industry.
The transformation of product design was completed with the gold lustre-ware almost entirely phased out and a new focus on hand-painted designs. Some were trendy 1960s inspired geometric designs but the 1960s also saw the introduction of a Mexican range called Pedro, that even to this day is fashionably retro.
At the height of the tourism boom in the 1980s, Jersey Pottery attracted over one million visitors each year to its factory, showroom, gardens and restaurants in Gorey.
The early 1960s also saw the introduction of a coffee bar, which ultimately was the beginning of Jersey Pottery Restaurants, which has become one of the leading restaurant and catering businesses in Jersey.
The export and mail order business was still alive, with ceramics being sent to Canada, USA, Uruguay, Chile, Peru, South Africa, New Zealand, Sumatra, India and Persia and all over the UK by the end of the decade.
Design changed to reflect fashions in the 1970s with the introduction of hand-thrown stoneware in muted browns and often decorated with ribbon tools. The ceramics, inspired by the hippie movement’s preference for all-natural materials in the 70s, were a big hit and a significant change in design direction. The small coffee bar was replaced with a new architect-designed 500- seat restaurant able to cater for the 300,000 customers that visited the pottery annually.
The range increased to at least 200 made by a factory workforce numbering more than 100, all of whom were kept in full time employment, all year round. This decade also saw the introduction of porcelain for the first time, and two of Colin’s sons joined the family business. Jonathan returned, following his father’s footsteps, after a ceramic training in Stoke-on-Trent to work on the ceramic side of the business and Robert, after completing a management training scheme at the Savoy Group in London, to work in the restaurant and catering side.
Hand-made pottery making reached its zenith at Jersey Pottery as the highly skilled workforce produced some of the highest quality studio-pottery of its time. The decade culminated in the production of a limited edition range called Millennium.
Visitor numbers to Jersey and Jersey Pottery’s Gorey site peaked and the restaurant and catering business took on its own direction opening outlets elsewhere in the Island and offering outside catering, the latter headed by Colin’s youngest son Matthew, who joined the business in 1996 after catering college in London. Colin’s daughter Gemma also joined the business to work in customer relations.
The business was faced with a disappearing customer base and needed to reinvent itself. A decision was made to return to its origins and recommence a business exporting to trade customers. Export-ware needed to compete on the world stage and hand-made ceramics were expensive to produce, especially in Jersey. A decision was made to focus on high quality porcelain, bone china, earthenware and stoneware decorated with decals. While manufacturing of the new and old ranges continued in Gorey, Jersey Pottery also starting manufacturing outside Jersey and working with a range of external artists and illustrators commissioned to work alongside the in-house design team.
Jersey Pottery attended trade shows around Europe and steadily the export business started to grow again with Jersey Pottery ceramics now being stocked by hundreds of retailers in over 30 countries around the world.
In 2010, after many years deliberating the future direction of the business and faced with a declining sales at the Gorey site, and increased costs which made manufacturing in Jersey unsustainable, a decision was made to close the factory in Gorey and move the company's headquarters to a temporary office in St Helier.
The restaurant business was already operating from multiple sites around the Island, so the move had little impact on this part of the business.
Jersey Pottery opened a factory in Stamford, Lincolnshire, and moved all production from Jersey to this new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. It also centralised its European and Asian fulfilment operations at a warehouse nearby.
Dominic Jones, the eldest of the Jones brothers, joined Jersey Pottery after a 25 year career in law, banking and finance.
Jersey Pottery’s management, design, marketing and finance teams moved to a new home at 8 Beresford Street, St Helier, a restored former Victorian gentleman’s club. The overall business is now bigger than any time in its history and employs over 150 people.