There are few things that House of Marbles haven’t dabbled in over the years. Rocking Horses: done it. Overseas offices: been there, done it, still thriving (and growing even). Run woodworks? Of course! Made novelty pottery? Hell yeah!
Many of our visitors will have been here and looked around and perhaps asked themselves why we have a pottery museum, which would be a completely valid question. The answer lies in the history of the buildings we inhabit, AND if you have dined with us in our Old Pottery Restaurant, you’ll have witnessed the striking kilns that reside in our Games Garden.
In the hundreds of years of this site’s history, pottery has been made here for a significant portion. Our pottery museum has plenty of information for those interested in discovering more, and of course, our Spotlight on the Pottery Museum Blog is one to take a gander at too. One thing we have yet to adequately discuss, though, is House of Marble’s brief revival of the craft here on site in the early 90s.
When House of Marbles first acquired this site circa 1990, it was a derelict plot full of potential and in dire need of investment (discussed more in our 50th Anniversary Blog). Ironically the one structure that stood firmly happened to be the only one not intended to, for Bottle or Muffle Kilns meant to be constructed, used for a select number of firings and then deconstructed, only to be built again. This ensured a sound structure in order to economize and preserve some semblance of health & safety (back in the days when no one had heard of the term ‘health & safety’).
In 1992 when House of Marbles had quite literally ‘set up shop’ and settled into its new home, a space was created in the now Pottery Museum and staff room where pottery fired in our kilns was painted and decorated. At first, the pottery focused on reviving some famous pieces from the days of the Bovey Tracey Potteries (situated on the same grounds), including the popular Wemyss pigs. It soon produced other works for the public and trade customers, including a special Teapot for Coronation Street.
During this time, moulds proved costly for each item produced, and profits were low on this side of the business, whilst the games and glass side of things were a different picture. After five years, the pottery was closed so the company could focus on those other more industrious areas. Still, the bottle kilns remain as structures of historical influence and listed as Statutory Ancient Monuments. Uncannily, in a fact of pure serendipity, the kilns actually gained their listed status in which year? Why 1973, of course! It would certainly suggest that fate may have had some part in us finding our way to our home in Bovey Tracey (if you go in for that sort of thing).
So here we are, in the heart of Devon, leaving our stamp on the world forevermore as the last pottery to exist on this site. Hopefully, as a business, that brought regeneration and joy to the area too.