The Story of Springfield and Royal Essex China

Springfield China Limited acquired the works, plant and machinery at Cobden Works, Longton, Stoke on Trent, in 1987

Cobden Works was built in 1860 by Thomas Poole who had begun manufacturing bone china in 1845. During the Second World War the Government required factories to merge and so in 1941 Thomas Poole merged with George Proctor and Co, the makers of Gladstone China and the new company became known as Thomas Poole and Gladstone China. The old works of Gladstone China are now the Gladstone Pottery Museum.

The story of the Royal Essex brand of bone china tableware begins in 1845 when Thomas Poole decided to set up a factory to manufacture bone china in Longton, Stoke on Trent, a city now known throughout the World as “The Potteries”and whose Premier Division football club is known as “The Potters"

Thomas Poole was an admirer of Richard Cobden who was born in 1804. Richard Cobden owned a textile factory in Manchester and was concerned at the condition of his workers and the high price they had to pay for bread. The price of bread was high because of very high import tariffs on imported corn and wheat. These import tariffs, known as “The Corn Laws” were imposed by Act of Parliament in 1815 to protect English farmers who were well represented in Parliament.

Cobden entered Parliament as an MP and established the “Anti-Corn Law League” to abolish these import duties.They were abolished in 1846 and the cheap imported corn led to much lower bread prices

The abolition of the Corn Laws also greatly helped farmers in the British Empire, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and there are many small towns in farming districts in those countries named Cobden in his memory.

The increase in imports to England led to a great increase in the trade up the river Thames to London and more employment and prosperity in the surrounding County of Essex

One brand of bone china was named Royal Essex to remember this and at the suggestion of a Canadian customer Springfield China Ltd reintroduced the brand in 1990.

Thus the tradition of Thomas Poole and his admiration for a great Victorian reforming politician lives on today.

 

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