Cliff House Pottery was opened at West Hartlepool in 1880 by William Henry Smith, who had come from a family of potters. The premises at Mainsforth Terrace was a two-storey high building in which 200 people were employed as potters and painters, as well as where the raw material for the pottery was prepared. If you would like to find out more about the Smith family history and how the pottery was made, you can read our original blog on Cliff House Pottery here.
Many of the employees had come from the Staffordshire Potteries, and they had brought with them some new techniques. Staffordshire was England’s centre of pottery manufacture in the 1800s, and household names such as Mintons and Wedgwood were producing high quality pottery. Some of these wares were Majolica, a style in which moulded earthenware is covered in brightly coloured glazes. Majolica pieces are often recognised for their bold colours and high gloss finish.
During its 17 years running as a business, Cliff House produced many of its own Majolica pieces, the most iconic being their leaf plates. As can be seen below, these plates feature the realistic veining of leaves while being very experimental in colour. Plates featuring leaves were very popular in the Victorian period, and there are examples of Wedgwood and Minton producing similar leaf plates.