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A Brief History Of Royal Doulton

Friday, February 1, 2013 at 10:00AM
Tags: Baddeley Green, Caithness Green, Doulton & Co., Doulton Fine China Ltd, Eric Hooper, Fulham Pottery, Henry Doulton, Henry Lewis Doulton, Holland Studio Craft, John Doulton, John Watts, Martha Jones, Pearson Group, Royal Doulton, Royal Doulton plc, Waterford Wedgwood
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Royal Doulton Elizabeth figurine

When you become a fan of a certain brand, you naturally want to find out more about them.

We love the products they're producing and we so often want to look back through the company's history to find out how they began and how they've got to where they are today.

With Royal Doulton's history, it has been a very interesting time, with huge amounts of change, growth and development.

It all started back in 1812, when John Doulton, after learning his trade as an apprentice at Fulham Pottery, gained a job at a small pottery in Vauxhall Walk, London.

Owned by a Martha Jones, in 1815 Doulton invested his life savings of £100 and alongside the pottery's foreman, John Watts, entered into a partnership with Jones, called Jones, Watts and Doulton.

With Jones retiring in 1820, the company - now known as simply Doulton and Watts - moved to Lambeth six years later and by 1835, Doulton's son, Henry, had joined as an apprentice, continuing with the company's production of industrial ceramics.

Over a decade after joining the company, Henry realised the potential in sanitary and earthenware and setup a separate company, which in a matter of years had grown tremendously, soon having factories right throughout the Midlands.

John Watts retired in 1853 and following it it was decided to bring together all of the separate companies / strands of the company under one umbrella, resulting in 'Doulton & Co.' being established in 1854.

Gaining a Royal Warrant in 1901 from King Edward VII, granting them the right to use 'Royal' in their name, it was during the first half of the 20th century that the company branched out into fine china.

Very much a family business, with Henry's brothers all being involved at some point throughout their lives, the company continued to develop over the coming century, with ownership being passed down from Henry Doulton (who gained it further to his father's death in 1973, when a new partnership was created) to his son Henry Lewis Doulton and then to his nephew Eric Hooper, who remained as chairman until his death in 1955.

A year later, the company was reorganised and several subsidiaries setup, one of which was 'Doulton Fine China Ltd'.  A hugely popular company during the 1960s, dominating the industry, by 1971, the Doulton & Co. company had been bought by the Pearson Group and more subsidiaries were created by merging and rebranding already owned potteries.

Continuing its success over the coming two decades, the Royal Doulton arm of the Pearson Group was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1993, becoming known from thereon in as Royal Doulton plc.

Making several acquisitions during the 1990s (including that of Holland Studio Craft and Caithness Glass), the turn of the millenium proved to bring some troubling times, as production ceased in several of the company's key factories, such as at Baddeley Green.

In 2005, Royal Doulton plc was bought in a £40 million deal by Waterford Wedgwood (already a 21% shareholder in the company) and by the start of 2006, production of all Royal Doulton products had moved to the factories of Waterford Wedgwood.

And that brings us to today, where millions of people around the world know and love the figurines produced by Royal Doulton, all thanks to the leap John Doulton made back in 1815 by investing his entire life savings into the forming of the Jones, Watts and Doulton partnership.

We love talking about the history of Royal Doulton and whilst we really have just skimmed over the last 200 years, if you've got any questions or in fact have any tales or stories about the company's history, please don't hesitate to leave a comment.

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