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Since the brief for this project centered on creating pieces inspired by “occasions” with reference decoration and color, as well as putting into perspective the design values Denby has come to stand for, it became necessary to research into the company.

I started out with finding out with getting an indepth background of Denby as a company.

Denby’s History

The pottery at Denby was founded on the estate of William Drury-Lowe in 1809 as a manufacturer of stoneware bottles. It was run by Joseph Jager in partnership with Robert Charles George Brohier; the partnership was dissolved in 1814.By this time, clay from a deposit on the land was already in use at the Belper Pottery. At the beginning of 1815 William Bourne of the Belper Pottery and his sons William, John and Joseph took a 21-year lease on Brohier and Jager’s factory. Joseph Bourne ran the works at Denby and Belper in tandem until 1834, when he closed down the Belper pottery and moved its equipment and workforce to Denby. Bourne later took over the Codnor Park and Shipley Potteries, and merged them into the Denby works in a similar manner. Joseph Bourne took his son Joseph Harvey Bourne into partnership, and the company became known as Joseph Bourne and Son, a name it kept even after the death of Joseph Bourne in 1860.

Using a new patent process for drying slip invented by Needham and Kite of Vauxhall, the pottery produced at least 25 tons of workable clay each day. In the nineteenth century most of the ware produced was salt-glazed stoneware. Bourne patented improved kilns for stoneware in 1823 and 1848. By the 1870s the pottery was producing a wide range of utilitarian stoneware products including telegraph insulators, ink bottles, pickle and marmalade jars, spirit and liquor bottles, foot warmers, churns, mortars and pestles, pipkins, feeding-bottles, pork pie moulds, druggists’ shop-jars, snuff-jars, spirit-barrels, pudding-moulds, and water filters. They also made more decorative “hunting jugs” sprigged with moulded decorations of huntsmen, windmills, men smoking or beehives, sometimes with the handle in the form of a greyhound, and terracotta goods, both practical and decorative.

Denbyware from the Blue Jetty range
The company benefited greatly from its transport links into Derby and beyond, particularly when the Midland Railway opened its Ripley Branch. It had a siding at Denby Wharf (the terminus of the Little Eaton Gangway) approximately opposite to the factory. Each week around three or four vans would be dispatched to Chaddesden sidings (near Derby station) where they would be connected to an express to St Pancras in London and the company’s warehouse at the Granary.

The company, whose name is now principally associated with stoneware, initially produced bottles and jars, before specialising in kitchenware and, eventually, in tableware, for which it is best known today. In order to increase capacity the nearby Langley Mill Pottery was acquired in October 1959. During the 1950s and 1960s a number of designers worked for Denby, including Gill Pemberton.

In 1987 the company was taken over by the Coloroll Group. After Coloroll went into receivership in 1990, Denby was subject to a management buyout, and was floated in 1994.

In the early twenty-first century Denby expanded its use of materials to include glass (wine glasses, tumblers and bowls) and metal (cutlery and cooking utensils). It also introduced fine dining ranges in porcelain and bone china.

The company was subject to a £30 million management buyout in 2009, after suffering a decline in sales. The company had £72 million of debt written off at the time of the buyout.

In 2010 Denby acquired Burleigh Pottery.

In February 2014, the company was put up for sale by its owner Hilco Capital following expressions of interest from other companies.


I was able to also conclude the following;
Denby’s Strengths
i – Is an established brand that has existed for over 200 years
ii – Is very recognised
iii – Traditional british ceramists/potters
iv – Extremely durable, this goods are of great quality.
v – Great level of funtionality
vi – Consistency in style (distint designs and patterns)

Denby’s Weaknesses

i – Seems to appeal to a limited group of individuals
ii – Patterns and designs seem very old and appeals mainly to an older crowd.

Looking into Denby as a company opened my mind up to the possibility of creating designs that would abstract their traditional designs as it would give rise to the possibilty of creating something fresh and up-to-date.