Posted by: Didapper PJ23 OCT 2013
At the far end of Lambeth High Street from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s headquarters is an ornately tiled red brick building. It is all that is left of the Lambeth Doulton pottery factory, established almost 200 years ago.
The firm was founded in 1815 by John Doulton, who, after gaining experience in other London potteries, invested all his savings in his own business at the age of 22. He went on to build up one of the world’s largest pottery and porcelain factories.
At first the company produced utility products, and it made a major contribution to improving public health in London after the mid-19th century cholera epidemics.
Once Dr John Snow had proved that cholera was a water-borne disease (simply by removing the pump handle from the Broad Street well), Doulton helped improve the capital’s water supply by the bulk manufacture of sewer pipes. At one time his factory was producing 13 miles of pipes every week.
In 1866 Doulton also began making decorative pottery, with designs by recruits from the nearby Lambeth School of Art. Some of these designs can still be seen, since the exterior of the surviving building incorporates a range of fancy tiles as a sort of sample book to show what the company could make.
Above the doorway is a ceramic scene showing men buying pots and a seated woman decorating a pot on her lap. This tableau is by one of Doulton’s best known designers, George Tinworth, who also produced many designs with religious themes.
Round the corner in Black Prince Road, the entrance lobby of Southbank House (open to all)?features a tiled panel celebrating the Doulton story, along with photographs of the factory at different times in its history.
In 1882, Doulton opened a new factory in Stoke-on-Trent, but the company remained a major employer in Lambeth until 1956, when all its production moved north.