Richard Dudson opened his first factory in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, in 1800. Later, eight generations and two centuries later! the company became the oldest privately owned family business in the UK tableware industry, specialising in ceramic products for the world of travel and hospitality. In the early years, the company produced a wide variety of domestic ware, including Staffordshire figures, Relief Moulded Stoneware, Jasper Ware, Ebony and Mosaic (rouletted) ware.
On the death of his father in 1882, James Thomas Dudson, the great grandson of the founder, became the owner of the Hope Street factory and it was he who master-minded significant changes in production, changing the focus from domestic pottery to pottery specially produced for the growing catering trade.
Having travelled extensively for the firm for many years, he identified the potential in supplying a new market. By this time, the railways were well established, shipping lines began to flourish and an increasing number of hotels were being built to accommodate the population which was now ‘truly on the move. James Thomas Dudson had the foresight to identify the embryonic ‘leisure and tourism’ industry!
The exceptionally strong, vitreous clay body perfected by his father was ideally suited to the production of catering ware, and so, by 1891, the company had turned its full attention to this new growth area. Dudson became one of the world’s leading manufacturers of tableware for the hospitality industry, setting standards in design, production and innovation.