Burleigh Pottery is best known for its beautiful high quality earthenware.
It’s lucky that Richard Eaton, design director at Burleigh Pottery, is a fan of tea: he drank a seven-cup pot of it during our photo shoot. He’s clearly keen on Staffordshire pottery, too, having spent his 27-year career so far with Denby Pottery. It was a few years ago, while at the helm of Denby, that he received a phone call about a struggling company in Stoke-on-Trent. ‘It was Burleigh and I was asked to come and have a look. We went to visit Middleport Pottery, where the company’s based, and it was like going back 150 years. We were stepping over holes in the floors, there were wooden troughs at head height and the boiler was stuck in a garage out the back,’ explains Mr Eaton. ‘I fell in love immediately.’
Today, following an injection of cash from the Prince’s Regeneration Trust (among other organisations), the Middleport factory has been brought into the 21st century, but the tissue-printing technique used remains exactly the same. Patterns, printed on cigarette paper, are cut by hand and wrapped around the item then, using a stiff brush, they are pushed into the pottery. ‘It’s such a skill,’ says Mr Eaton. ‘I teach at a local university and often take the cow creamer and teapot with me and say to the students: “How do you think you can wrap the pattern around a handle and spout?” they’re always amazed.’
Many of the patterns aren’t owned by Burleigh, but are endemic to Staffordshire potteries. ‘It feels familiar to everyone as a result. It’s pottery that makes you smile.’ the company is now restoring old copperplate rollers to reproduce classic patterns in contemporary colours. ‘Burleigh transcends age and demographics,’ says Mr Eaton. ‘It just screams of being English.’
For further information, telephone 01773 740740 or visit www.burleigh.co.uk