You might not have known what this distinctive blue and white striped pottery was called, but the chances are your grandparents or parents owned some.
Known as ‘Cornishware’, it was launched in the 1920s and remained immensely popular into the 1950s, 60s and 70s. It fell out of favour as being old-fashioned, but now it’s back in vogue again with its retro feel and clean lines.
The history of Cornishware goes back as far as 1864. The pottery of T.G.Green was founded by Thomas Goodwin Green, who (rumour has it) bought an existing factory while on his honeymoon, despite having no experience of the business!
Cornishware was first produced in 1924. Although the pottery has never been produced in Cornwall, the pattern reminded an employee of the blue skies and white-crested waves of that region and so the range got its name. Cornish clay was also used in the production.
The pattern became an instant success, and the iconic stripes appeared in contemporary adverts and illustrations all over the country, making it a familiar sight.
The famous Cornishware pattern became an instant success in the 1920s.
Unfortunately, the original workshop in Stoke on Trent couldn’t compete with modern product methods, and closed in 2007.
But fortunately, a team of Cornishware enthusiasts banded together to save the brand – hooray!
You can still buy a full range today, and for the first time it’s also available in red stripes as well as the iconic blue.
Pieces of vintage Cornishware often turn up in charity shops and auctions, and prices range from a few pounds to several hundred. Genuine pieces of pottery will carry the Cornishware stamp underneath.
Pieces of genuine Cornishware carry a backstamp, such as this example from 2012. Photo: Libby Norman
You can buy a full range of Cornishware online from T G Green, with prices starting at around £12 for a mug. Alternatively, you can visit John Lewis to buy online or in person.
Part of the appeal of Cornishware is the timeless stripes and bright, cheerful blue that match any decor or colourscheme. We’ve picked some complementary products to help you create a fresh, retro feel.
Cornish Ware paint No 48, Designers Guild
Cornish Ware No 48 paint, Designers Guild
Endlessly cheerful, reminiscent of the famous pottery, this would make a lovely feature wall in a kitchen. Available in four finishes: matt emulsion, water-based eggshell, oil-based eggshell and floor paint. Prices start at £5 for a sample pot from Designers Guild.
Scattered anchor paper napkins, Seasalt Cornwall
Blue and white nautical napkins from Seasalt Cornwall
A pack of 20 lovely paper napkins, in a unique prints inspired by Cornwall, these make a perfect foil to Cornishware mugs for afternoon tea. £3.50 for the pack from Seasalt Cornwall.
Short coffee cup in blue stripe, Decorator’s Notebook
Short coffee cup, Decorator’s Notebook
If you prefer a more eclectic look, mix a few of these stripy mugs in with your Cornishware. They’re just the right size to fit under most coffee machines, and you can choose from a range of glaze colours. Each cup is individually hand thrown by fair trade partners in India. £8.95 each, coming soon from Decorator’s Notebook.
Uka stripe bowl in blue, Nkuku
Blue and white Uka bowl, Nkuku
This elegant Uka stripe bowl is handmade from stoneware, and each one is painted by hand with this pretty stripe pattern inspired by traditional Japanese designs. Great for soups, cereals or as small decorative storage bowls. £12.95 each, available in different colours from Nkuku.
Bistro napkins in blue, Ville et Campagne
Blue and white bistro napkins, Ville et Campagne
Add a fresh feel to a summer dining table with these generously sized (50cm x 50cm) bistro napkins. Available in a choice of five colours, including blue stripe, they’re made from pure cotton and cost £22 for a set of four from Ville et Campagne.