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Royal Worcester

In 1751, after the Bristol porcelain factory had closed, Dr John Wall and William Davies, who had been involved in this previous venture, established a soft-paste porcelain business in Worcester.

The company went through several distinct periods:

Dr Wall Period – 1751 to 1783. The whole of the first production period is referred to as ‘Dr Wall’ even though he did not take charge until 1772. He was still in a partnership with William Davies, who kept the company running even after the retirement of Dr Wall in 1774. In 1783 it was sold to a merchant named Thomas Flight.

Flight Period – 1783 to 1792. Thomas Flight acquired the business with the intention that it would be run by his two sons, Josiah and Joseph. They opened a shop in London in 1788 at the suggestion of King George III, and in 1789 they gained the Royal Warrant.

Flight & Barr Period – 1792 to 1807. Josiah and Joseph were joined by Martin Barr, which prompted a name change.

Barr, Flight & Barr Period – 1807 to 1813.

Flight, Barr & Barr Period – 1813 to 1840.

Chamberlain Worcester Period – 1840 to 1852. Robert Chamberlain began as a decorator under Dr Wall and decorated porcelain provided by Caughley in Shropshire. He started his firm in 1783 and after a period of great success, he took over Flight, Barr & Barr in 1840.

Kerr & Binns (W. H. Kerr & Co.) Period – 1852 to 1862. New partners Lilly and Kerr had joined the firm in 1850 and by 1852 so had R. W. Kerr.

Worcester Royal Porcelain Company Ltd – 1862 to 1976. After an intense period of consolidation and modernisation, and following the retirement of William Henry Kerr, the Worcester Royal Porcelain Company was formed.

In 1976 the company was merged with Spode but owing to increased competition from abroad, operations were scaled back, and some production moved overseas. A series of redundancies from 2003 to 2006 saw the workforce decrease, and by November 2008 the company went into administration.

In April 2009, the intellectual property and trade names of Royal Worcester and Spode were acquired by Portmeirion Potteries, which subsequently changed its name to the Portmeirion Group to reflect this merger.

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