World-famous Hornsea Pottery celebrated in new art trail

Its slogan was: “The sun rises and sets on Hornsea Pottery.”

Ceramic artist Adele Howitt, who designed the trail
Ceramic artist Adele Howitt, who designed the trail

Now nearly 20 years after the world-famous ceramics business went under, it is back in the limelight with an eyecatching arts trail.

The pottery is still the first name to come up when you enter the seaside town’s name into Google. And with its retro look bang on trend, its iconic, innovative pieces are not only collectable but still inspire designers today.

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The Potter About Hornsea trail, which has been four years in the making, has its official launch today (March 16), along with guided tours, talks and a ceramics fair featuring well-known Yorkshire makers.

The shoal of fish on one of the town's roundabouts recalls the design on 1970's Hornsea Pottery mugs

A key designer, John Clappison, who was responsible for many of the design classics to emerge from the kilns – everything from coffee pots to cruets and Zodiac mugs to ornaments - provides inspiration for some of the striking new artworks.

His first range - which he designed in 1955 during his summer vacation from the Royal College of Art - sparked the idea for the “Elegance bench” in Newbegin, while Murmuration - 34 birds bursting from a bright orange tree on the Tesco roundabout - is based on his 1971-1972 Muramics wall plaques.

Ceramic artist Adele Howitt, who designed the trail, working closely with Hornsea Area Regeneration Partnership (HARP) and Hornsea Museum, which has the biggest collection of the pottery in the world, said: “Although it closed down in 2000 it’s still in living memory, and there are still people in the town who worked there.

“A lot of people collect it - there’s a Hornsea Pottery Research Society - and it is still well known around the world.

Artist Adele Howitt takes a break on the 'Elegance Bench'

“They are classic designs which have stood the test of time.

“They are very well made, they don’t break easily and there is a really British design about them.

“A lot of designers are manipulating the designs - I’ve seen it in lots of contemporary pottery - they maybe change the size or colours and you also see it in fabric design.”

The trail was the idea of Coun John Whittle, who as a young man drove the Hornsea Pottery miniature bus and later worked in sales.

Hornsea Pottery pavement art showcasing a mixture of popular designs on Newbegin

He said: “The slogan was the sun rises and sets on Hornsea Pottery - we had a factory at Lancaster on the west coast and Hornsea on the east.

"We can remind people in Hornsea of what was here and also show visitors what this town is capable of.”

Coun Barbara Jefferson, chair of HARP, said: “We are delighted that the hard work from this wonderful project will be open to the public at this event to enjoy in full. Not only is the project going to be welcomed by Hornsea residents but also visitors coming to the town.”

Today’s event (Saturday March 16) includes guided tours at 11.45am and 2pm.

The ceramics fair showing work by Fangfoss Pottery, Jill Ford and Ilona Sulikova, among others, is at the Town Hall from 10am to 3pm.

Poet Mary Aherne, who worked with local students to develop poetry included in the park at Willows Corner, will give a reading at 12.45pm.

This will be followed by a talk at the Town Hall 1.15pm by Coun Whittle.


The company, founded by Colin and Desmond Rawson in 1949 in the scullery of a house in Victoria Avenue, Hornsea, initially made plaster of Paris models.

When they began employing others, they needed bigger premises and moved to an old hall in the town centre.

By 1954, with 50 workers on the books, the firm was moved to Hornsea Brick and Tile Works in Marlborough Avenue, where it stayed until its collapse in 2000.

It was the town’s biggest employer for 51 years. At its height, it had 700 staff, including a factory in Lancaster and was supplying goods to leading British retailers, including Harrods, British Home Stores and Marks & Spencer.