The Denby Story
Author: Caitlyn Date Posted:11 March 2018
For the last two centuries Denby has been renowned for their hardy, handcrafted English tableware - used daily and passed down through generations. Given its proven durability, a Denby teapot can pour thousands of cups of tea in its lifetime.
The Denby story begins in Derbyshire, the heart of England.
The year was 1809, and local entrepreneur William Bourne discovered the strength and quality of clay in a seam revealed after a road construction. Enlisting his son Joseph to run the business, Bourne began producing his legendary stoneware.
Glass was very expensive in the early 19th century, so Joseph Bourne & Son Ltd. - as the company was then named - set their sights on producing salt-glazed stoneware bottles and jars as a glass alternative. When the price of glass decreased, they shifted their focus to tableware. Denby's pottery was quickly revered for its exceptional quality and found a place on kitchen tables across England, and the rest of the world.
The Derbyshire artists employed by Denby were pottery pioneers, refining their firing techniques and adapting to new design concepts. Many of these traditions remain, as the ingredients used to make Denby stoneware - clay, water and fire - has prevailed since 1809. Denby still source the same iron-rich clay from the seam just behind their factory.
Using time-honoured skills and traditions, Denby stoneware is crafted with great attention to detail by artisans who often have decades of experience. Before receiving the Denby stamp of approval, each piece passes through as many as 20 sets of hands.
Famed for the strength of their products, Denby claims that four upturned mugs can hold up a double-decker bus. Every new style is put through their ‘edge chip test’ and each piece hand inspected before leaving their factory.
Denby has now amassed over 5000 secret glaze recipes, responsible for the rich depth of colour in their glazes that have long been the company’s trademark. Iconic and striking ranges include ‘Electric Blue’ of the 1920s and ‘Tigo’ of the 1950s.
Recent releases have included pieces that fit seamlessly into a modern home, with a nod to Denby designs of yesteryear. Their newest collection, the ‘Natural Canvas’ range is a fresh and minimalist take on their ‘Chevron’ design of the 1960s.
The company’s ability to move with the times is also reflected in their environmental commitments; Denby was the first UK tableware manufacturer to claim ‘zero to landfill’ waste, meaning their sustainable practices ensure no waste ends up in landfill.
Denby’s designs have been moulded by changes in the way we live our lives, along with 200 years of style trends. Yet at its core, Denby pieces are genuinely handmade and truly unique, exuding English heritage. A Denby teapot belongs at the centre of everyone’s tea collection. And very importantly, produces a really good cup of tea!
'Natural Canvas' c. 2016