The appearance of those familiar blue and white hoops in children’s books, adverts, fashion magazines, collectors' websites and, of course, homes all over the world demonstrate Cornishware’s status as a cast-iron British classic. Like cricket, the Wellington boot or the Mini, it’s a source of pride and even passion at home and a symbol of great Britishness abroad. Its history, however, has not been without its ups and downs.
Cornish Kitchen Ware was first produced in 1926 by T.G.Green & Co in Church Gresley, Derbyshire, a county famed for its pottery. The range’s special characteristic came from the lathe-turning process, which cut clean bands through its beautiful blue slip to show the white clay beneath. It was apparently this that inspired the name, since it reminded one T.G.Green & Co. employee of the clear blues and white-tipped waves of Cornwall.
The range of kitchen and table ware, from the hooped plates to the iconic storage jars, was an immediate success and remained popular from then on. This inspired T.G.Green & Co. to produce more colours of Cornishware, and more ranges, including the spotted Domino Ware and the cream and green Streamline Ware.
In the 1960s, Cornishware was updated by a young designer called Judith Onions. It says much for her skill and sensitivity that this restyled range was embraced as warmly as the originals had been. Over the past 20 years, the range has become highly prized by collectors, with the sighting of both rare original designs and Onions classics the subject of much excitement – and ever-increasing prices.
The story was not so happy for T.G.Green & Co. itself, however. It had become increasingly difficult for the Victorian pottery in Derbyshire to compete in the modern age and, after a series of owners had done their best since the Green family sold it in 1964, it finally closed in 2007.
But this English classic could not be allowed to die. Fortunately, Cornishware had fans in the right places. Lifelong admirers Charles Rickards and Paul Burston, teamed up with designer and branding consultant Perry Haydn Taylor, whose wife Vik is an avid Cornishware collector, to come to the rescue. Together with Bill Barlow of Bigfish, they have the business expertise and passion to restore the classic blue and white hoops to their rightful position.