The Linthorpe Art Pottery was set up in 1879 in Linthorpe, Middlesborough, by John Harrison, and ran for just ten years until 1889. The pottery was founded in conjunction with Christopher Dresser, the prominent designer, who was art director until 1882. The principal aim of the pottery was to reduce unemployment in the local area, and it employed over 100 workers.
It was the first company to use gas-fired kilns, producing consistently high work. The pottery was built on the site of the old Sun Brick Works, and the early pieces were made from the local red clay. On Christopher Dresser’s recommendation, Henry Tooth, an artist from Buckinghamshire, was hired as pottery manager despite his lack of experience, and ran the works until 1882 when he left to set up his own pottery. His successor was Richard Patey, one of the pottery’s most reliable workers. The pottery closed when John Harrison was made bankrupt in 1889 due to the collapse of the Onward Building Society. He died shortly afterwards, aged only 45. Several of the Linthorpe employees found work with the nearby Burmantofts pottery.
The Linthorpe pottery had a short lifespan, so relatively few pieces were made. The brand had a reputation for the highest quality, and Princess Alexandra was a fan, buying several Linthorpe vases. The pottery also won several medals, and was very influential, probably due to the connection with Christopher Dresser. As a result, Linthorpe enjoyed great popularity during its lifetime, and it’s still very sought after today, but as with all pottery, the value of the individual item is largely dependent on the age, condition and rarity. Linthorpe was famous for pioneering different glazes and finishes, and the most unusual examples are avidly collected. Any pottery marks add to the value, such as the ‘Linthorpe’ embossed mark, or Christopher Dresser’s signature, found on pieces made to his design.
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