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The Old Crown Derby China Works,

The King Street Factory 1849 - 1935.

Following the closure of the Nottingham Road china works in 1848 six former workers from that concern began the manufacture of china at rented premises on King Street.  The partners were William Locker, Samuel Fearn, Sampson Hancock, John Henson, James Hill and Samuel Sharpe. A notebook belonging to William Locker, which was used  at Nottingham Road and  brought with him to King Street, records the names of the  partners and the amount of money each put into the new concern.(1).

The first advertisement for the new business appeared on 23 January, 1849 in the Derby Mercury, and was titled “Wm. Locker and Co., China Manufacturer and Dealers.”  Locker died in January 1859 and withdrawal of his capital from the company meant that George Stevenson, a Derby business man, entered the business and is thought to have provided   extra money for the venture.  For two years until 1861 trading as Stevenson Sharpe and Company continued. 

King Street Kilns and Yard.

The Old Crown Derby China Works had up until this time been using the old Nottingham Road mark of crown, crossed batons, two sets of three dots and script D, in addition to the two garter marks reading  Locker late Bloor  and Stevenson Sharpe and company.     In 1861 Llewellyn Jewitt, the art historian, persuaded the company to amend the original Nottingham Road mark claiming that “it was bad policy and may lead to confusion “(2).  To this end the initials S and H were placed either side of the three dots used in the original Nottingham Road mark and the batons were changed to swords by the addition of hilts.  Jewitt said of the new mark “While it is sufficiently identical with the old Derby mark, is yet distinct enough for it to be recognised as the work of a different period.”(2).

The two garter marks mentioned above are illustrated below. 


The top Locker & Co mark dates to c1849-c1859.  It is found in puce and embodies the words "Locker & Co, Late Bloor, Derby".  Its use probably ceased on the death of William Locker in 1859.

The lower mark also in puce reads "Stevenson Sharpe & Co" around "King Street, Derby".  It is a short lived mark, dating to c1859-c1861.

Stevenson died in 1866 with capital again being withdrawn from the concern.  Sampson Hancock then became sole proprietor for the next 29 years until his death in 1895.  The company now trading as Sampson Hancock continued to use the new S and H mark since they were the  initials  of Sampson Hancock.

In May 1877 the S and H mark was registered with the Trade Marks Registry just 2 years after the  passing of the Trade Marks Registration Act. (3).  Illustrated along side is the King Street mark, introduced in 1861.  It is usually seen in the three colours shown here, in red which dates c1861-1935, in blue which is found on most white wares and is of uncertain date but most probably late 19th century and in puce which was introduced in c1915.  It is occassionally found in black and green, and can also be incised.

Following Hancock’s death in November 1895 John James Robinson his grandson inherited the concern and the company continued to trade under the name Sampson Hancock.    

Following the sale of the china works in 1915 by Robinson’s widow, William Larcombe became the next proprietor.  Formerly a china dealer and restorer he too continued in business using the name “Sampson Hancock” which can be seen in numerous advertisements in the Derby Mercury for this time.  The S and H mark continued in use but the addition of Larcombe’s monogram was added to the underside of the pots.  (Illustrated right.)

In 1917 Francis Howard Paget became Larcombe’s business partner, a partnership which lasted 16 years.  The S and H mark continued in use but the monogram was amended  to represent both partners.  (Illustrated right, also found in puce.) Letterheads were styled “Old Crown Derby China Works.” (4).  When William Larcombe returned to working on his own account as a china restorer in 1933, Paget became the sole proprietor of the Old Crown Derby China Works.  The company title and S and H mark were retained but a new monogram of crossed P’s was introduced.  (Illustrated far right, also found in red.)   Paget sold the Old Crown Derby China Works for £4,000 in 1935.  The new owners, The Royal Crown Derby Porcelain Company immediately closed down the small King Street china works, advertising its’ stock for sale in the local Derby papers.

King Street produced figures in biscuit, glazed white and decorated forms and original models and moulds from the earlier Nottingham Road factory were also in use.   Whiteware with applied flowers was a speciality of King Street.  Comports, candlesticks, table centres, mirrors as well as vases, dishes and bowls were produced.  Baskets were also very popular, however, some of these as well as undecorated table wares were bought in possibly to satisfy customer demand.  (Examples of King Street glazed white and coloured figures, and also glazed white and coloured pieces with applied flowers are illustrated right and below.) 

Potters included John Henson, Samuel Fearn and Samuel Sharpe.  Modellers included Marshall, Stephan, Shufflebottom, Barnet, Swainson and Taylor. 

John Mountford, the possible inventor of Parian worked at the Old Crown Derby China works from 1866 until his death in 1894.     

The factory had a small shop facing onto King Street and an additional means of sales was the use of photographs of whiteware which were sent to customers.  Bearing prices written in ink over the illustrations of the pots, a polite request was written on the reverse asking for the return of the documents at the potential purchaser’s earliest convenience. (5).  (Examples of these cards can be seen to the right and below.  Thanks to the Royal Crown Derby Museum for allowing us to reproduce them here.)

The King Street factory shop, facing onto King Street.

Decorators included   Annie Bailey, Frederick Chivers, Albert Haddock, Harry Sampson Hancock, Sampson Hancock, William Hancock, William Hargreaves,  James Hill, George Jessop, Arnold Machin, William Mosley, Edwin Prince, Jack Ratliffe and John Wencker.  Gilders included John Winfield, Albert Haddock and Harry Sampson Hancock.

Decorative and useful items were produced.   Old Derby patterns were in use throughout the life of the factory and the Kiln Book for the years 1934/5 provides an insight into the more modern  decoration. (7).  Two pattern books containing watercolour illustrations also help to show the variety of patterns used, some from  Nottingham Road and some modern 20th century designs.(6).

An example of a page from the pattern book together with a piece decorated in that pattern can be seen on the right.  (Pattern book reproduced by permission of Royal Crown Derby Museum)

Queen Victoria was a patron of The Old Crown Derby China Works, obtaining replacement pieces for a dessert service produced at the earlier Nottingham Road factory. (7).   A letter heading  which bears the  Royal Coat of Arms is known in a private collection.

References for The Old Crown Derby China Works, The King Street Factory, 1849-1935.

1.            Commonplace and memorandum book of William Locker c. 1808-1849.                                   British Museum Dept. Of Medieval and Later Antiquities.  Additional MS 54574.

2.            Jewitt, L., Old Derby China Works, a history of the Derby Porcelain Works, The Art Journal, London, January 1862, p4.

3.            Trade Marks Journal, 23 May, 1877, p.211.

4.            Blackwood R., & Head C., The Old Crown Derby China Works, The King Street Factory, 1849-1935.              Landmark Publishing 2003, p. 411. 414.

5.& 6.    The Royal Crown Derby Porcelain Company, The King Street Archives.

7.            Bradley. H. G.,  “King Street Factory”,  DPIS Newsletter,  No. 18, p.47.



We are grateful to Mrs. Jacqueline Smith, Curator, Royal Crown Derby Museum, for permission to use documents from the King Street Archives.

We are grateful to Mrs. Cherryl Head for preparing this history of the King Street factory and for allowing us to use a number of these images.

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