Since the last two posts were quite long, I had promised myself the next post would be short and something light in subject. China seemed to fit the requirements, but to my surprise the history of the pattern I chose, Old Country Roses, is quite complicated. Since it was only introduced in 1962 the actual history of the china pattern is relatively short; it is its manufacturer’s history that is as complicated as the genealogy of Queen Victoria’s descendants. Don’t worry, I’m not giving you a step-by-step to the history of Royal Albert china!
The early details are a little murky, but in 1896 Thomas Wild and his son, Thomas C., purchased the Albert China Works in Longton Stoke in Trent. The facility, built in 1846, had been named after Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s Consort. The company produced a number of commemorative pieces for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 and received a Royal Warrant allowing them to display her coat of arms that indicated they were manufacturing goods for the Queen and her family. In 1904 Thomas Wild changed the name of the company to Royal Albert.
Fast forward through mergers, acquisitions, and hard times to 1972 when the company became a subsidiary of Royal Doulton. The production of Royal Albert China was transferred to Doulton facilities and the historic factory in Longton was closed in 1998 with production being transferred to Indonesia.
In 2005 Royal Albert was purchased by the Waterford Wedgwood company and became a part of their brand. Fortunately, Royal Albert was one of three brands of the company to survive the sale of Waterford Wedgwood’s assets to a venture capital company in 2008.
Sometime in the 1990’s I discovered the Old Country Roses pattern and could easily understand why it is proclaimed as the world’s favorite pattern; it quickly became mine. Through Christmas and birthday gifts and shopping in their outlet store I collected a few pieces. I have hoped that I would run across this pattern in a thrift store, but have never had that happy experience. I’ve watched it online, hoping to someday find affordable priced pieces as I would really like to have enough to set a table completely. Plus, I know my cream and sugar set would love to have a teapot to accompany them. For now, though, I enjoy what I have and use it from time to time just to treat myself.
Sadly, I had a lovely platter that a chair-hopping-brownie-eating dog knocked into the floor one night! The pieces are now in a bag with hopes that someday it will be recycled into well, something. I have a small pendant with the roses and would like to learn to clip the porcelain pieces and make jewelry. Someday.