UK Shelley Group 25th Anniversary

An Exhibit Like None Other

The English Shelley Group celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2010 with an exhibit of Shelley china that rivals, if not exceeds, what would have been seen in a 1930's Shelley factory showroom. The exhibit was showcased at the Gladstone Museum where attendees were also given an in-depth view of the manufacturing processes common to the potteries in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Attendees were stunned by the diversity of Shelley exhibited in the more than twenty-five glass cabinets which were interspersed with story boards telling the history of Shelley. For many, the high point of the exhibit was a showing of the actual pattern books used at the Shelley factory, which are seldom allowed out of the Waterford Wedgwood archives. (For those curious as to why the pattern books are in Waterford Wedgwood's custody, the answer is sad, but simple. Shelley was acquired by Royal Doulton which was itself subsequently acquired by Waterford Wedgwood, a merged unit of two former, world famous manufacturers of luxury china and glassware. Waterford Wedgwood itself went into administration [the UK equivalent of bankruptcy] in 2009, and the future of the Shelley archives remains a matter of continuing concern.)

The slide show which follows provides a brief glimpse into the glory of Shelley. In addition, there are slide galleries which show the Gladstone Museum and introduce you to a UK Club tradition, the Shelley Pot Show.

The slides from the Gladstone are present a trip through time to see the manufacturing process as it was in the days of yore.

If you haven’t attended a UK AGM, you are probably wondering: “What is a pot show?” Simply put, it is a thoroughly delightful tradition capturing the wit and wisdom of collectors and the incomparable diversity of Shelley. Conducted as a contest, each entry is contained in a box, using one or more pieces of Shelley or Wileman, and set around a theme such as a poem, song, saying, nursery rhyme or pun. But why is it called a pot? As North Americans we may not realize that anything made by a potter is considered a pot in the trade. Thus any piece of Shelley or Wileman qualifies as a “pot” for the show.