Derby - The Royal Crown Derby Factory
w/e 18 August 2002

A series of composite photos this week following a visit to the Royal Crown Derby Works in Osmaston Road, Derby.

Three images to start showing the entrance to the visitor centre, the showroom and factory shop (main picture) and the Royal Crest above the entrance that states the manufacturers of fine bone china are "By appointment to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother".

On the upper floor of the visitor centre is the Crown Derby Museum and although this is the one place in the building where photography is prohibited, a display of photographs outside the museum records a visit in 1987 Her Royal Highness The Princess Of Wales. Back downstairs, in the foyer, is a display case showcasing the Royal Crown Derby Paperweight Collection.

Also in the foyer is the Millennium Fountain, made in 2000 to celebrate "250 years of craft and creativity in china". It is the largest single item ever made by the company and is made up of 1500 individual tiles. It combines the most advanced technology with skills dating back to before 1750. The royal connection goes back almost as far - King George III granting the factory the honour of being able to incorporate a crown into the backstamp in 1775. Over 100 years later, in 1890 Queen Victoria granted the title "The Royal Crown Derby Porcelain Company". Standing over eight feet high, water trickles down strands of filament threaded with crystal. The three inserts show some of the detail of the fountain.

I was surprised to see in the display area that many of the pieces produced today were decorated in part at least by the use of transfers. The Derby Dwarfs however remain completely hand painted. The main picture above shows the original cast of a dwarf in about 15 pieces. These are joined together, glazed and hand painted by ceramic artists to produce a unique finished product. They can be commissioned and decorated individually to mark special occasions or create a family heirloom to be handed down but at almost £800 each, as I was a little short of change on this visit, I decided against it. The artistry involved though is a wonder to behold.

The intricate work involved in producing the circular wall display also in the display area is another art to be admired. The image lower left is a close up of just part of the display while the one lower right shows some of the flowers in the course of construction. Tiny hand made flowers also featured in the trinket boxes (top) as they made their way into the factory to be fired. They had been commissioned for a wedding as presents for the bridesmaids .

Row upon row of cups and saucers were among the wares on sale in the factory shop while another stand (bottom left) contained some fine porcelain ornaments including some tiny drum kits and a fleet of Noah's Arks (top right).

To read more about the company and its history visit the Royal Crown Derby web site.

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