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Royal Doulton

Royal Doulton History

The Royal Doulton Company began way back in 1793 when a John Doulton was born.  After serving his apprenticeship at Fulham Pottery, which he completed in 1812 he began working as a thrower in a pottery owned by a Mrs Martha Jones.

A Mr John Watts was the foreman at this pottery and in 1815 he and John Doulton formed a partnership together with Mrs Jones.  They became Jones, Watts & Doulton.  After five years Mrs Jones retired but John Watts and John Doulton continued in a new partnership. 

The Company, which was not to become Royal Doulton for several years, was now known as Doulton & Watts.  In 1816 they moved to the High Street in Lambeth where they manufactured stoneware bottles.  Eventually Doulton’s sons, John and Henry joined in what had now become a very successful family business.

The Doulton sons were very astute Business men and Henry Doulton set up a separate business and began to manufacture earthenware pipes and sanitary ware in a building also in Lambeth High Street.  He and his father and a younger brother Frederick Doulton, were partners in this new venture. 

At about the same time (1847) John Doulton Junior opened a factory in St Helens, Lancashire and supplied pipes to the north west of England and particularly Liverpool.

Within a very few years Henry Doulton & Co. had opened factories at Dudley, Rowley Regis and Smethwick to supply pipes to the English Midlands as there was a growing demand for sanitary ware.

John Watts’ partnership with John Doulton ended when Watts retired in 1853, and at this time, almost 50 years prior to 'Royal Doulton' being constituted, the three independent family Companies were dissolved and the family formed a new partnership known as ‘Doulton & Co.’  

Initially the partnership included John Doulton Sen., John Doulton Jun., Henry Doulton, Frederick Doulton and a younger son of John Doulton Sen., Alfred Doulton.  Only a short few years after the Company was constituted Alfred and John Doulton Jun. died. Eventually Frederick retired to enter politics and in 1864 John Doulton Sen. Henry Doulton and James Doulton, (John Doulton Junior’s son) became Partners of a reconstituted Company.

Following the elder John Doulton's death Henry Doulton’s son Henry Lewis joined the Partnership.  He was to continue the Company with his nephew Ronald Doulton after his father Sir Henry Doulton and James Doulton Sen. died.  In 1899 the Company became a Corporation and was known as Doulton & Co. Ltd. As well as Henry and Ronald Doulton, Messrs. Benjamin Hannen, Master Builder, and William Turnbull a China Merchant joined the new Company as founding Directors.

In 1901 the Doulton Company was granted a Royal Warrant by King Edward VII and was able to use the term 'Royal Doulton'.  Henry Lewis Doulton remained Chairman of the company until his death in 1925 when, since he had no family, his nephew took over the role of both Managing Director and Chairman. He died in 1955.

In 1956 Doulton & Co Ltd divided into four subsidiary companies one being responsible for sanitary wares, one, drainage pipes, one, industrial porcelains and one earthenware and fine china. This latter business became 'Doulton Fine China Ltd.’

S Pearson & Co Ltd bought the Doulton Company and its many subsidiaries in 1971 but Doulton & Co Ltd remained responsible for the ceramics part of the Pearson Company until Royal Doulton plc was floated on the Stock Market in 1993.