Clarice Cliff, A. J. Wilkinson Ltd, Newport Pottery, Shorter & Son Ltd: What Do They Have In Common?
A. J. Wilkinson Ltd, Newport Pottery, Shorter & Son Ltd were all factories owned by the Shorter family and they worked in close co-operation.
The ‘Shorter & Bolton’ business was founded as a partnership between Arthur Shorter and James Bolton in 1872, in Stoke, Staffordshire, UK. In 1891, after the death of his brother in law, Shorter commenced managing A.J Wilkinson.
Arthur Shorter died in 1926 and Shorter & Son Ltd continued under the management of brothers Arthur ‘Colley’ Shorter and John Shorter, and Harry L. Steele. Colley Shorter died in 1964 and the business was acquired by S.Fielding & Co. Ltd (Crown Devon).
The arrival of Colley Shorter saw a change in direction in manufacturing for Shorter & Son, from domestic earthenware to wonderfully colourful novelty and ornamental products.
Their main claim to fame were the renowned designers Mabel Leigh and the infamous Clarice Cliff, whom worked at the A.J. Wilkinson factory.
In 1927/8 Clarice Cliff designed the handpainted ‘Bizarre Ware’ pottery range. The name for the range was chosen by Colley Shorter whom married Clarice Cliff in 1940 after the death of his first wife.
There has been much speculation as to whether or not this fish range of tableware was actually designed by Clarice Cliff.
Shorter & Son Ltd trade names include ’Batavia Ware’ and ‘Sunray Pottery’.
The Shorter & Son maker’s backmark comprised variations of a printed ‘Shorter & Son Ltd, Stoke-on-Trent, England.’
It is strange, to me at least, that many of us have heard the name Clarice Cliff but few of us have heard of Shorter & Son or their wonderful pottery. I hope this short blog goes some way towards remedying that!