Discover the remarkable journey of how Royal Crown Derby began in 1750 and grew into a global brand at the forefront of exquisite fine bone china design and craftsmanship.
THE STORY BEGAN
Like all the best stories, ours started small. In 1750 a remarkable artist Andrew Planche established the first china works in Derby. With a passion for creativity his handmade figurines paved the way for the evolution of global ceramics. Fortuitously, Planche made close friends with William Duesbury who’s decorating skills aligned perfectly with his own, leading them to the discovery of the commerciality of crafting and decorating exquisite fine bone china. Committed to creativity and quality, both men were catalysts for the Royal Crown Derby brand, who today continues to be driven by the desire to be the best. With investment from a local businessman, the entrepreneurs established the Nottingham Road factory which quickly developed a reputation for premium quality fine bone china.
ICONIC ROYAL HERITAGE
In 1761, Royal Crown Derby’s remarkable royal connection begins with the creation of the commemorative piece celebrating the coronation of King George III in September 1761. Since this momentous occasion, Royal Crown Derby have developed a unique relationship with the British royal family, supplying every British monarch since King George III.
Focused on growth, William Duesbury acquired the famous Chelsea China Works factory, resulting in the transfer of the world’s best ceramic artists. The unrivalled artistic skills coupled with the opening of the grand London based showroom, facilitated the widespread recognition of pristine Derby porcelain that remains today.
SHAPED BY ROYALTY
Exemplary design and prestigious craftsmanship were just a few of the qualities King George III admired, therefore in 1775, he granted the honour of incorporating the crown into the brand’s iconic backstamp. This globally admired crown mark synonymous with exquisite fine bone china, continues to feature on every Royal Crown Derby piece crafted today.
ADVANCING LUXURY DESIGN
The guiding principles of a family-run business were born. As William Duesbury passed away in 1786, William Duesbury II inherited a thriving global business. His passion for perfection and artistic flair accelerated the innovation of ceramics. Duesbury recruited a team of accomplished ceramic artists who constantly pushed the boundaries of prestigious fine bone china, using highly lavish decorating and potting techniques. They established the reputation of luxury that Royal Crown Derby has today, supplying some of the wealthiest and most influential people across the world. The hallmarks of these creations are threads that run through everything Royal Crown Derby make today.
HANDMADE TO PERFECTION
When the Nottingham Road factory closed down, six determined workers joined forces to establish the ‘Old Crown Derby China Works’ based on King Street in Derby. With the demand for prestige fine bone china in the middle-class market, they continued to sell many of the original patterns and pieces from the earlier factory, whilst establishing an iconic reputation for stunning handmade china flowers.
A NEW HOME
In 1875, two entrepreneurs Phillips and Litherland identified a prosperous opportunity and opened the famous Osmaston Works factory. This grand site remains the home of Royal Crown Derby today. The current Osmaston Road factory began production known as ‘The Derby Crown Porcelain Company’.
ICONIC OLD IMARI
The world-renowned pattern, Old Imari, number 1128 was first recorded and can be seen in the famous Royal Crown Derby pattern books held in the museum. This globally revered pattern continues to be produced today.
A NEW ROYAL NAME
Royal acclaim continued in 1890, when the company was appointed the manufacturers or porcelain to Her Majesty. Queen Victoria granted the use of ‘Royal’ in the title and the famous brand became ‘Royal Crown Derby Porcelain Company’. During this year the acclaimed decorator, Desire Leroy arrived at Royal Crown Derby to form a design house dedicated to creating new standards in hand painting, creating elaborate pieces with gilding and jewelling techniques.
SUPPLIERS OF THE RMS TITANIC
The RMS Titanic was built as an example of opulence and grandeur, meaning it required only the very best suppliers to showcase British craftmanship and design. Like Royal Crown Derby’s clients today, the White Star Line commanded only the best, therefore, on the 31st of January 1911, Royal Crown Derby was commissioned to supply the first-class dining suite. Correspondence with the ships glass and china retailer, Stonier & Co, remains in the Royal Crown Derby Museum today. This remarkable pattern steeped in British history continues to be made today under the very same roof as 1911, gracing the tabletops within the finest residences around the world.
AVES WAS DESIGNED
QUEEN ELIZABETH II VISITS
FIT FOR A QUEEN
Queen Elizabeth was presented with the ‘Royal Pinxton Rose’ service during a visit to Derby. This 12 person dinner service consisting of 120 pieces and took inspiration from the delicate rose painting of the 18th century flower painted by William Billingsley.
THE QUEEN MOTHER VISITS
A NEW CHAPTER
Lead by Kevin Oakes, the world-leading ceramic manufacturer Steelite International, acquired Royal Crown Derby. Steelite’s commitment to supplying the hospitality market propelled the brand into a new realm of fine dining; the strategic diversification, combined with a legacy of British made quality tableware, has led Royal Crown Derby to partner with prestigious hospitality brands across the globe.
Kevin Oakes privately acquires Royal Crown Derby. With over 40 years of experience in the British ceramics industry, Kevin has played an integral role in the recent success of the company. Due to his entrepreneurial flair and desire for expansion, the brand has reached new heights of global exposure for its world-class design and superior quality.
A FAMILY BUSINESS
Advancing a brand requires vision. In 2017 Christopher Oakes stepped into the role of Managing Director and has since expanded the company’s reputation for beautifully designed tableware. Working alongside clients in the most notable residences across the world, Royal Crown Derby continues to be driven by the desire to be the best.
Today we see heritage at the start of our story, not the end. We continue to celebrate our roots and the rich history that has paved the way for our iconic British brand. People all over the world continue to seek beautifully designed tableware that is synonymous with British craftsmanship. This desire for the best continues to inspire everything that we do.
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