CELEBRATING MAUREEN & HUGH EDWARDS’ 35 YEARS AT MOORCROFT.
Founder, William Moorcroft, first started creating fine art pottery in 1897. Ultimately the company gained the title of ‘Potters to the HM The Queen’ in 1928 and was established worldwide as a leading light in the British Arts and Crafts movement.
However, by 1986, England’s once great art pottery had dwindled to a handful of employees who had not worked on a new design for more than ten years. Only twenty-four hours before Moorcroft’s proud tradition might have succumbed to the fate of contemporaries, William’s youngest son, Managing Director, John Moorcroft, rang his bank who in turn reached out to Hugh Edwards, a successful commercial lawyer in London and lifelong Moorcroft collector, in a final bid to save his heritage. With the minutes ticking away, Hugh, his wife Maureen, a solicitor in general practice, and their two friends, Richard Dennis and Sally Tuffin, mounted a last-minute rescue, putting into operation their plan for the company’s revival.
To start the recovery new designs were created and the Moorcroft Museum was built, with pieces housed in 1924 Liberty cabinets. Maureen mortgaged the freehold of her office building, while Hugh pacified the company’s creditors. New design and a reinvigorated salesforce were soon paying dividends, and orders burgeoned. In 1992 Richard and Sally left the company, now facing the new year with a design void. Rachel Bishop, a ceramics graduate from the New Forest was soon uppermost in everyone’s mind to take over the design mantel. The rest, they say, is history.
35 years on, and the helm of the Moorcroft ship is still guided by Maureen and Hugh. Moorcroft’s course has been wide and varied. Her presence is very much felt in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA. Several vases have found their homes in the various houses and castles of the Royal Family in the intervening years. Today Moorcroft designers create work for leading charities including the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Royal Horticultural Society, to name just two. Moorcroft has featured on radio and television, in numerous magazines, worldwide auctions and various books. Glistening pottery graces the shelves of Liberty & Co., London as well as numerous independent retailers the world over. The fine art pottery is still made by hand in the original 1913 factory based in the World Capital of Ceramics, Stoke-on-Trent. In the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic Moorcroft continues to sail through unchartered waters, changing and adapting to modern times as she does so.
The experience of more than half a working lifetime as well as the proceeds of sale of their unique collection of old Moorcroft, were all freely given by Maureen and Hugh to save Moorcroft from extinction and to rebuild the world-famous name that is Moorcroft today.