During the 1950s, 60s and 70s Washington Pottery, based in Stoke on Trent, England created some of the most exciting and bold designs on cups & saucers, plates, bowls and mugs available. From the bright check china tea sets of the 50s to the funky fish and flower power patterns of the 60s and 70s, these designs are now highly sought after by collectors of vintage home and tableware.


above Washington Pottery check tea set from the 1950s
 
Here is a potted history of Washington Pottery. The Swinnerton pottery company founded in 1906, acquired the Washington Pottery in 1917.  Pottery under the brand name Washington Pottery was manufactured at Shelton (Hanley), Stoke-on-Trent from 1946 to 1970.


above a rare cup & saucers with star design..

Washington Pottery produced china for hotels as well as for the home. In 1970 the company was renamed English Ironstone Pottery Ltd. Later Just Mugs Ltd purchased the mug-making side of English Ironstone Tableware and continued production at the Washington Pottery until 2001 when they relocated to Longton. The company still manufacture pottery today though it concentrates on garden pots rather than pottery for the home. 



In the 1950s, Washington Potteries made check china tea sets and tableware. The pattern is often known as Harlequinade, and most often appears in multi coloured sets of cups, saucers, tea & dinner plates, dishes and serving bowls, it features pastel to deeply coloured glazes in yellow, blue, green, pink and greys, as seen above.

The design seems to have been named after the Harlequin pantomime character who wears a multi coloured diamond patterned costume, the Harlequin's role is full of fun and frivolity. We think the design of harlequinade tableware was aiming to be thoroughly light hearted, particularly as it was produced after the austere war years. The government's war time utility scheme had previously severely restricted the manufacture of homewares to being merely functional and practical for the UK market, in order to save on precious raw materials.


above...Alfred Meakin and Empire also made check tea sets in the 1950s.

When starting out on a Harlequinade collection it can be difficult to differentiate between all of the makers' patterns, which included Alfred Meakin, Empire Pottery and Washington Pottery indeed many a collector is happy to have both sitting side by side. Above we see 2 large Alfred Meakin dinner plates, with an Empire Pottery tea plate. As you will see the Meakin is very, very similar to the Washington Pottery check pattern with straight black lines. Whereas Empire made theirs with wavy lines as seen on the tea plate in the front.



Washington Pottery also created check tea sets with a detailed flowery gold pattern with the checks.



This design was called Brahma, and we have seen it in green, blue and also black.



With the advent of the 'Flower Power' movement in the 1960s  and early 70s, Washington Pottery launched the 'Flower Power' range. (Flower Power was a hippie movement arising in the USA as a reaction to the Vietnam War. This peaceful movement was represented by vibrant colours and the wearing of flowers in hair and on clothes. It was also associated with psychedelic colourful artworks.)

The highly sought after Flower Power designs from Washington Pottery can be seen on mugs, bowls and plates and many collectors use them as ornamental pieces in their homes today.




above...Washington Pottery Flower Power mugs are very hard to find nowadays. It would be unusual to find a complete set of any of the tableware. Below is a set of dishes in 4 of the 6 designs available in the range.

 

The tea plates are often hung on the wall by today's collectors, with their ultra bright seemingly contemporary designs, they lend themselves well to artworks for display:



We will add the other 2 tea plate designs available later when photographed (we currently have a set of 6 tea plates in all the patterns available, combined postage if buying all 6).



Another extremely popular design from Washington Pottery are the 'Aquarius Fish' plates. Again, there are 6 patterns to collect which include a goldfish, yellow, green and purple fishes, a fish which looks like a minnow (bottom left) and and also the rather daunting John Dory (top right)



These generally appear on oval plates with a textured edge. (The same shaped plate as the Bull series from Washington Pottery.) Our favourite is the yellow fish which we have on display in our own kitchen.



Washington Pottery created other interesting psychdelic flowery patterns, such as 'Invitation' as seen on this set of lidded soup bowls.





This was also used on plates, here is a complete set of tea plates, see how there are 2 slightly different designs and when you turn them the pattern appears to change making them all look different? 



Here is 'Invitation' on a delightful and rare cake plate...



We adore the fun bright design 'Fashion' pattern as seen on this sugar bowl...this hardly ever comes up!



I think you'll agree that Washington Pottery created some of the most exciting tableware available between the 1950s and 70s. The designs were amazingly bright, and so are exceedingly fun to collect and display in our modern vintage homes today. 

Information on this page will be updated as and when we learn more, and is based upon our current knowledge.

Washington Pottery in the yay retro! shop

Buy Washington Pottery on our website