The firm acquired the Hadderidge Pottery, Burslem at about this time. Production
continued through the Second World War, but at a much reduced level, and following
the end of the war W. R. Midwinter was joined in the business by his son William
Roy Midwinter assumed control of the business in the late 1950s (although his father
was active in the business for a further decade) and under his management the business
became one of the leading producers of domestic earthenware in the 1950s and 1960s.
Midwinter acquired the neighbouring A. J. Wilkinson Ltd and Newport Pottery Co. Ltd
in 1964. The purchase was to expand production due to the success of the ‘Fine’ shape
tableware and continuing demand for the company’s ‘Fashion’ tableware. Despite the
success of the ‘Fine’ shape, the firm encountered financial difficulties in the late
1960s and was taken-over by J. & G. Meakin Ltd in September 1968. The holding company
for the combined group was Meakin & Midwinter (Holdings) Ltd, however the new Meakin-Midwinter
business was itself was taken over by the Wedgwood Group in January 1970. W. R. Midwinter
Ltd continued as a semi-autonomous unit within the Wedgwood Group until Wedgwood
closed the business in 1987. Roy Midwinter left Wedgwood in 1981 and became associated,
as a designer, with Federated Potteries Ltd. He died in 1990.
W. R. Midwinter Ltd was originally a manufacturer of Rockingham teapots, tea wares
and toilet wares. During the 1920s and 1930s the firm became well known for its semi-porcelain
dinnerware and tea and coffee ware marketed using the ‘Porcelon’ trade name. These
wares were decorated in conservative style except for some art deco inspired abstract
patterns applied on Midwinter’s traditional shapes. Nursery ware and fancy earthenware
were also made. These pre-Second World War wares are of little interest to collectors.
Under the influence of Roy Midwinter the company led the revolution in tableware
design in the United Kingdom in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Drawing inspiration from
the American designers Eva Zeisel and Russell Wright, Midwinter launched the contemporary
Stylecraft range in 1953 and the even more radical Fashion shape in 1955. The latter,
designed by Roy Midwinter and fellow director William Lunt is typical of the Midwinter
style of the 1950s and early-1960s and is characterised by flowing lines and the
integration of handles and other parts into the body of the ware. With its rimless
plates and fluid, organic lines it is now regarded as an icon of 1950s design. The
memorable patterns produced by Midwinter’s in-house designer Jessie Tate or commissioned
from artists such as Hugh Casson, who’s drawings of French scenes under the name
‘Riviera’ are now so highly sought, contributed materially to the firms success.
In 1960 Roy Midwinter commissioned David Queensbury (later Marquis of Queensbury),
to design the ‘Fine’ shape launched in 1962. This was a radical departure from the
flowing, organic shapes popular in the 1950, but its spare cylindrical shape again
caught the public mood. The Fine shape was re-modelled in 1966 and launched as the
‘MQ1’ and a second Queensbury design the ‘MQ2’ shape was launched in the same year.
Roy Midwinter was also instrumental in the development of the ‘Stonehenge’ range
released in 1972. With its speckled glaze and bold lines it too caught the mood of
the times and the strongly coloured ‘Sun’, ‘Moon’ and ‘Earth’ patterns designed by
Eve Midwinter were enormously popular until their withdrawal from the market in the
W. R. Midwinter Ltd used the trade name ‘Porcelon’ in the 1930s, possibly until c.1953.
Post-war marks include the company name and many cases the shape name -‘Stylecraft’,
‘Fashion’, ‘Fine’, ‘Stonehenge’ etc. The name of the artist responsible for the pattern
is also often included.
Meakin & Midwinter (Holdings) Ltd
Holding company formed to facilitate the merger of J. &. G. Meakin Ltd and W. R.
Midwinter Ltd. The merger was announced in September 1968 although the intention
was for both businesses to continue to trade under their own names and pursue their
own individual marketing and sales policies. Post-merger, the combined group was
to be known by the name British Tableware Ltd, although it is uncertain whether this
name was ever actually used. Although termed a 'merger', J. & G. Meakin Ltd were
the dominant influence and the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of J. & G. Meakin (J.
W. E. Grundy and A. Derek Jones) assumed those positions on the holding company Board.
Meakin & Midwinter (Holdings) Ltd and thus the assets of both businesses and their
subsidiaries were acquired by Wedgwood from January 1970 through an offer for the
whole share capital of J. & G. Meakin Ltd.
Peat, A., Midwinter – a collector’s guide. (Cameron & Hollis, 1992).
Jenkins, S. Midwinter Pottery—A Revolution in British Tableware. (Richard Dennis,
1997, ISBN 0 903685 55 8).
Earthenware manufacturer at the Albion Pottery, Navigation Rd, Burslem, and, later,
also at the Hadderidge Pottery, Burslem. W. R. Midwinter was founded by William Robinson
Midwinter at Bournes Bank, Burslem in about 1910. The business expanded rapidly moving
to the Albion Works in Navigation Rd, Burslem in 1914. William Midwinter served in
the Royal Navy during the First World War and care of the business was left in the
hands of his wife. Further expansion followed in the 1920s and 1930s and in 1932
the business was incorporated as W. R. Midwinter Ltd, with William Midwinter and
A. T. Godwin as the Directors.
A Midwinter Fashion shape coffee pot (1954) with ‘Canne’, a sketch from France by