Arrival of train service in mid 19th century brought tourists to Torbay which became known as 'The English Riviera'. The railway also reduced costs for the Torquay potteries in bringing the coal to fire their kilns.
These facts enabled the potteries to embark upon the production of holiday souvenir pottery in addition to the traditional terracotta and art pots. A particular leader in this new wave of products was the Longpark Pottery.
The addition of place names to the cottages and mottos was a natural for the souvenir trade. The most common names are the towns and villages in Devon where the pots were sold. However, the potters sold these souvenirs to places in Canada, Australia, United Sates and the Caribbean.
The Devon potteries enjoyed a substantial market in Canada providing souvenirs inscribed with place names, some of which were miss-spelt (e.g. Vancover) and some that are misplaced (e.g. Moraine Lake, B.C.) Advertisements by Watcombe in the English Pottery Gazette and Glass Trade Review list agents in Vancouver, Toronto, and Boston who would probably have been the salesmen for these pots. While Watcombe pots predominate in the Toronto area, the Torquay Pottery Company ( trade name Royal Torquay) is common in British Columbia. A number of eastern Ontario towns appear to have commissioned small pots showing a 2 men in boat design that are generally attributed to the Hart & Moist pottery. Longpark pots with Canadian place names have also been found. Over 100 Canadian place names are in the collections of NATS members Pat Turner and Jill Buckworth, including five Provinces, every provincial capital except Regina, and villages as small as Essex, Ontario in addition to the usual tourist attraction spots such as Niagara Falls.
Most of the Canadian place name pots bear marks indicating they were made in the period 1920 to 1940. A September, 1958 advertisement by Royal Aller Vale & Watcombe Pottery Co. still lists a Vancouver agent and a number of “Royal Watcombe” Canadian place name pots from the 1950’s are known. An interesting article in The Torquay Collector on this subject is "The Neilson Furniture Co. Ltd " (Pat Turner, Summer 2006). Back issues of the magazine can be ordered from our Products Manager.
Schmidt Bros. Inc., 189 High Street, Boston, Mass., the Boston agent for Watcombe, would almost certainly be the source of the pots with places names in Massachusetts and New York that we have seen. These would seem to be 1950’s pots. However, the 1958 advertisement no longer lists the Boston agent. The NATS members in Boston have a number of these pots in their collections.
The Devon potters exported a considerable amount of their mottowares to North America in addition to the souvenir pieces. Cyril Wilson, a potter at Watcombe, has recalled that the Hudson’s Bay Company was a customer and a pot in Pat Turner's collection has a Hudson Bay sticker on it.. This trade was given impetus by the domestic U.K. trade restrictions imposed on the potteries in the post war years until 1951.