Royal Doulton

Jones, Watts & Doulton was established in 1815 as a partnership between Martha Jones, John Watts and John Doulton. They were based in Vauxhall, London, and specialised in salt-glazed utilitarian storage vessels. In 1820 Martha Jones left the partnership and it became Doulton & Watts.

John Doulton’s son Henry had joined the firm as an apprentice and in 1846 started his own business producing ceramic pipes, predominantly for use in sewers, and other sanitation wares.

After John Watts retired in 1853, Doulton & Watts merged with Henry Doulton & Co. in 1854 to become Doulton & Co.

Henry Doulton was interested in developing more decorative wares for the company, and by 1871 had launched a studio at the Lambeth pottery. Many of their decorators had come from the nearby Lambeth School of Art and produced high-quality individual stoneware objects that were hand-decorated and signed. By 1882 they had acquired the Pinder, Bourne & Co factory in Burslem, Staffordshire, to meet the increased demand.

The Lambeth studio continued to produce small-batch stoneware objects, while the Burslem factory focused on producing more ubiquitous bone china tableware and figurines.

Henry Doulton died in 1897 and Doulton & Co. became a limited company in 1899.

In 1901 the Burslem factory was awarded a Royal Warrant by King Edward VII, which is when it was able to use the name ‘Royal Doulton’.

Doulton & Co. continued to expand its business for the first half of the 20th century, but the pottery industry suffered a decline after the end of World War Two. By 1971 the company was acquired by S. Pearson & Son Ltd, who restructured the various entities into five branches. These were gradually sold off, and the remaining brands and subsidiaries held by S. Pearson & Son Ltd were amalgamated under Royal Doulton Tableware Ltd.

The Wedgwood Waterford Group took over Royal Doulton in 2005 but by 2009 the group had gone into administration. Divisions of this group were sold to a private equity firm, which then sold it to Fiskars in 2015.

The majority of Royal Doulton tableware since 1995 has been produced in Indonesia, with a handful of luxury items manufactured in the UK.

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