Stepping inside one of only a few bottle ovens in Stoke-on-Trent which are accessible to the public, reveals the dazzling Dudson Collection. The converted bottle oven on the original factory site is now the home to over 1,300 exhibits which bring to life over two hundred years of the production of Dudson ceramics.
The stunning collection spans three centuries and is so diverse that visitors can mistake the exhibits as being made by different pottery manufacturers! In the early days, the original Dudson factory was relatively small and the products had to change with the times, especially with the ever-evolving tastes of the Victorians. Early examples also show Dudson to be adept at making for all levels of the market and range from colourful figures, which were displayed at The Great Exhibition of 1851, to ornate tea wares and blue printed wares. Even the pottery produced for everyday use shows considerable artistic flair and nineteenth century production includes jasperware, relief-moulded stoneware, mosaic ware and hand-painted jet-ware.
During the 1880s, due to the explosion of travel generated by the railways, Dudson turned its attention to producing pottery for the fast-growing hospitality industry. The company continued to specialise in this market and exhibits trace the fascinating changes in styles led by the demands of the catering industry, the nation’s eating habits and food fashion (who will remember avocado dishes?!) More recently, Dudson produced high quality innovative shapes and brightly coloured pottery for major hotels and restaurant chains, whilst plain white remained ever popular, especially with the TV chefs who preferred a blank canvas on which to display their artistry in food!
The story of Dudson is told through the displays, information boards and other historical artefacts. Our knowledgeable guides are on hand to describe more about the unique collection.