17 November 1995

LUCKY 13 SEE THE FINEST CHINA MADE

CHESHIRE members gathered in the gallery of the Royal Doulton factory before being divided into groups of 13 for the tour of the factory.

With superstitious thoughts of that number and stories of bulls in china shops we carefully admired all the fine

chinaware on display.

The overall feeling of this place that produces so many beautiful pieces of china was that of cheerful camaraderie between the 1700 employees. Our guide, Iris James, had worked there for 32 years, the last six as a tourist guide.

She first showed us the lithographing department and I saw one of my favourite pieces of Minton china before it was fired. I was surprised that the colour of the glaze was different but was informed that it changes in firing.

The transfers are put on to each piece of tableware by girls with amazing dexterity, each one being paid piecework as are all the workers. The speed at which some of them literally threw their work on to the conveyor belt was amazing. I was intrigued by the bottles of liquid gold and platinum being kept on the move so they didnt solidify. What looked like a pint sized bottle held £840 worth of gold mixed with oil for decorating the china.

We soon found ourselves in the department where the famous figurines are made – what a variety of shapes, sizes and colours. We saw the well known and loved "0ld balloon seller" at various stages of production. Each figure is handpainted and the painters work on 12 figures at a time.

The afternoon ended all too quickly with a visit to the factory shop after tea.

The highlight of my afternoon however was to meet Frances Jones, editor of the Cheshire page in our quarterly magazine. She told me that she had entered a competition many years ago for a design for the FWC badge. She won £2 and bought some bathroom scales which are still going strong!

So is her design – at the heart of our club badge.

These metal badges are available from FARMERS WEEKLY office at £1 (inc p&p.) Cheques payable to FWC.

Jean Howells

Cheshires editor (and club badge designer) Frances Jones (left) with contact leader Hilda Meredith.

Members queue to pay for purchases in the Royal Doulton factory shop.