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Food Legends | Pubs | Cultural Britain | History

Wedgwood pottery has long been a British institution, and not only for its quality and elegance.
Josiah Wedgwood is an icon of our industrial history, his life story encapsulating his era. He rose through his own efforts from very humble roots in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, to worldwide fame, winning enormous wealth and establishing a dynasty – Charles Darwin his grandson. Part of his success was due to technical brilliance, Wedgwood’s pyrometer allowing for better temperature control in kilns and thus improved quality; he was elected a member of the Royal Society for this invention. Josiah’s marketing skills are legendary – royal approval used to promote his wares for example. A pioneer of the canal age, backing the building of the Trent and Mersey Canal, he was also a great abolitionist, whose medallion “Am I not a man and a brother,” helped that cause hugely.
But it is as part of our own home lives that Wedgwood pottery has become an institution: so often the posh dinner or tea service bought for couples starting their married life, regarded with reverence and rarely if ever used. The colours the company developed are national reference points, Wedgwood blue in particular. And millions of middle-class households throughout the land will have a small Wedgwood vase, a cake-stand, or a biscuit barrel passed from one generation to the next, symbols of continuity.

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