Depictions of Love and Romance at Middleport Pottery |… | Re-form
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Explore the Collection - Depictions of Love and Romance at Middleport Pottery

From 6th -14th February 2023, we are celebrating love, romance and marriage through a selection of objects from the Middleport Pottery Collection. See the items on display in the Middleport Pottery Heritage Trail or explore them below.

Gretna Green moulded plaque. T8932. On display in Managers Office.

Modelled by Ernest Bailey in the 1930s, this plaque depicts a marriage in the blacksmith’s shop, Gretna Green. Part of a series of plaques made to match a set of reproduction period jugs, these were hand painted, mostly by Fred Ridgeway.

The Blacksmiths shop in Gretna has been a centre for elopement and marriage since the 1754 Marriage Act put into place requirements for a formal ceremony of Marriage in England and Wales. These rules did not apply to marriages in Scotland and as a result, young couples would meet in the border town to be married by the local blacksmith.

You may notice the ceremony being performed at the anvil. Tradition around this has been built up - with the blacksmith striking the anvil as part of the ceremony, forging the bond of marriage.

T8901 Gretna Jug reproduction

The Runaway Marriage jug. T8901. On display in Managers Office.

This jug bears a similar scene to the Gretna Green plaque also situated in the Managers Office. The horseshoe rim and inscription add to the scene depicted. The inscription reads:

The Ceremony

The dangers of the long night ride are past

In Gretna Green they find themselves at last!

The friendly smith awhile his work resigns

To hear from them the oft repeated lines.


Commemorative plate in Blue Asiatic Pheasant. T8735. On display in Centenary Showroom.

This plate was created for 'The Royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine 29th April 2011'. Over the course of the company history, Burleigh have produced a number of commemorative items for royal events including Weddings, Births, Jubilees and Coronations.

'Dillwyn’ Willow pattern plate. T4577. On display in Davenport Gallery

This pattern was first produced by Burgess and Leigh in the 1920s, although the company's history with the pattern does pre-date this. Variations on Willow type and Chinese inspired patterns have been produced since the 1860s.

The design is said to have been reproduced from 'an actual old Chinese plate' although the inspiration can be traced to a plate produced in the Cambrian Factory in Swansea in the early 1800s.

Elements of the pattern represent the love story told in Willow pattern plates including doves which immortalise the perished lovers of the tale.

Three handled loving cup. On display in Centenary Showroom

Loving Cup made to commemorate the marriage of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911.

Loving cups are commonly made of silver or ceramic and used as trophies and also as shared drinking containers at ceremonies. The loving cup dates back to the Saxons. The ceremony surrounding drinking from a loving cup is said to date from the murder of King Edward the Martyr who was drinking from a two handled cup when he was stabbed. In ceremony, a companion stands back to back with the drinker to protect them whilst they drink.


Mermaid ashtray c.1960s. T510.2 On display in Designers Room

Ashtray depicting The Little Mermaid. Written around the edge of the item is 'Carlsberg, Pilsner, Larger'. Carlsberg Breweries was established in Copenhagen, and in 1913, Carl Jacobsen (for who the company was named) commissioned the Little Mermaid statue and donated it to the city.

The mermaid has featured on Carlsberg advertising and products occasionally since then. This ashtray dates to around the 50th anniversary of the statues installation.

T2770 Mermaid Reproduction

Mermaid advertising ware. c.1960s. T2770 On display in Designers Room.

Figure depicting The Little Mermaid. This item was pub advertising for Carlsberg Breweries. Modelled around the 50th anniversary of the donation of the Little Mermaid statue to Copenhagen by Carl Jacobsen, it mirrors the pose set by sculptor Edvard Erichsen in 1913.

The Little Mermaid sits on a rock, with legs and a fish tail, looking out towards the sea, which she had left in order to pursue the love of a prince, and a life above the waves. Though the original story by Hans Christian Anderson does not end well for the Little Mermaid, you might be more familiar with Disney’s retelling of the story in which love does triumph.


Heart Mug. T1454. On display in the Designers room.

This mug formed part of the ‘Love-Hate’ series designed during the 1970s. The ‘Love’ mugs were produced in six different colourways with the heart on the front and the word love on the back. The ‘Hate’ mugs were produced in three colours.

This was the era in which shape of ware was greatly changing and the production of these mugs, amongst other designs put Burleigh at the forefront of the industry ‘mug explosion’.