The exact sequence of events, which led to the opening of a porcelain manufactory in Worcester is difficult to unravel. It seems that around 1750 Dr.John Wall (1708 – 1776) and the apothecary William Davis conducted some experiments at Davis’s shop in Broad street, Worcester and discovered a method of making a porcelain type material. They then persuaded a group of 13 local businessmen to back their discovery with investment in a new factory at Warmstry House. A lease for the grand house on the banks of the River Severn was taken out on 16th May 1751 and on the 4th June, the 15 partners signed a deed to officially establish the ‘Worcester Tonquin Manufacture’. The secret of porcelain production was to be the property of the subscribers and each agreed to a penalty of £4000 should they disclose knowledge of the secret to anyone. Early production does not appear to have been successful and in 1752 the rival business of Benjamin Lund in Bristol was purchased, bringing vital technical expertise to Worcester. A licence to mine soapstone in Cornwall was also secured.
In the early years virtually everything produced was functional. By 1755 Worcester was making the best English blue and white porcelain tea wares that money could buy, as well as more expensive coloured enamel sets. Porcelain was sold to the trade through a warehouse opened in Aldersgate Street, London in 1754 and also through Samuel Bradley’s shop in Worcester High Street. Worcester’s main advantage over its rivals was that the Worcester soapstone porcelain did not crack when boiling water was poured into it. (Many other British porcelains did crack!)
Between 1767 and 1771 Dr.Wall had a formal agreement with the independent London decorator, James Giles and large quantities of Worcester Porcelain were decorated in Giles’ London Studio. (for more go to - James Giles London Studio)
Increased tea consumption in the 1760s created a huge demand for tea wares, bringing prosperity to the Worcester factory. This was not to last as competitors in Staffordshire began to produce inexpensive wares in large quantities. In 1774 Dr.John Wall retired and by 1775 Thomas Turner had left Worcester, taking many skilled workers with him. He set up a rival factory at Caughley in Shropshire, where he mass produced blue & white table wares in a very similar style to Worcester.
A full account of Worcester porcelain may be found at the Worcester Porcelain Museum website: