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T. G. Green

Thomas Goodwin Green bought the Church Gresley pottery from Henry Wileman in 1864, after a chance meeting while Thomas Green was on his honeymoon in Scarborough. Green had made his fortune in Australia as a builder and returned to England in 1861.

The already-established pottery was producing utilitarian red and yellow earthenwares such as pudding bowls, teapots, jugs, and cooking dishes, which were in great demand for families working in the industrial North of England.

This venture proved successful, and in the early 1880s Green decided to build a new factory in the valley below the old site; it would specialise in white earthenwares. By the mid-1880s two of Green’s sons, Thomas Stanley and Roger Thorpe, had joined the firm and it had become a limited company.

Thomas Goodwin Green partnered with his former head clerk, Henry William King, who went on to run the pottery with Roger Thorpe after his father retired in 1897. That same year, Thomas Stanley had left the business after a disagreement with his father.

In 1904, the new works were destroyed by a fire; it was quickly rebuilt, and by 1911 it was completely electrified, using steam engines to drive the generators.

By the 1920s the launch of the iconic Cornish Ware range helped to keep the company busy throughout what was a difficult post-war period. They continued to produce a wide range of other items, including their well-known Yellow Ware.

The onset of the Second World War compounded the difficulties they were already facing, with the restrictions imposed on decorative wares and many employees being called up for service. They continued to produce Cornish Ware and other fancy wares like Domino and Polo for export, but the domestic market was limited to the pre-existing Yellow Ware and a new Utility range.

After a period of recovery, the business undertook some modernisation in the 1950s and introduced new colourful ranges under the guidance of British and Swedish designers like Judith Onions and Berit Ternell. Judith Onions is known for her revivifying of the Cornish Ware range; her reimagined shapes are still in production today.

Despite great success with these new ranges, the introduction of a 30% Purchase Tax on pottery goods in 1955 created industry-wide difficulties. The decline in business saw them enter voluntary receivership in 1964.

T. G. Green was subsequently bought by a finance partnership and then sold to Cloverleaf in 1987. Cloverleaf’s holding company was subsumed by Coats Viyella, which had a multi-million-pound portfolio. A management buyout saw Cloverleaf and its subsidiaries reestablished as an independent business.

Sadly, in 2007 the business entered administration and the Church Gresley Works were closed.

After a bid from a handful of collectors and investors in 2008, T. G. Green was acquired and resumed business. Initially, production was overseas but they have now successfully brought manufacture back to the UK; a proportion of these wares are made in Stoke-on-Trent, and the rest are made in nearby Evercreech in Somerset.

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