Grainger’s Worcester Porcelain

Thomas Grainger (1783–1839), an apprentice at Robert Chamberlain’s Worcester factory with his partner John Wood, established a rival porcelain company in rented property in Lowesmore, Worcester in 1801. Like Giles and Chamberlain before them, they started by decorating blank porcelain made by other companies. By 1804 they were advertising the decoration of porcelain in local newspapers and had opened a shop in Worcester Forgate Street by 1806.

Grainger & Wood started to manufacture their own porcelain by 1807 and soon gained a good reputation for both useful and ornamental wares. Rich patterns such as Japanese style Imari and fine tea wares posed serious competition for the Chamberlain and Barr, Flight & Barr factories in the city. Some exceptionally fine flower and landscape paintings were also produced, usually on straight-sided mugs or classical vases. Following a factory fire in 1809 a new factory was built at St Martin’s Gate.

In 1839, following the death of Thomas Grainger his son George took control of the company and encouraged the production of elaborate ornamental wares. Grainger embraced the Neo-Rococo style in the 1830’s and 1840’s, producing a wide range of decorative vases, tea and dessert wares. Characterised by extravagant shapes, bright rich colours and scrolled gilding, this revival style was fashionable with up-and-coming industrialists who could afford to spend money on their homes. George Grainger & Co diversified their products, producing embossed tiles for fireplaces, unglazed china figures and door furniture. They were also successful with the development of Chemical Porcelain (for laboratory use) and Semi-porcelain.

Following the death of George Grainger in 1889 the Grainger factory was sold to Royal Worcester who continued manufacture on the St.Martin’s Gate site until finally closing the works in 1902. During the 1890’s the Grainger factory specialised in the production of hand painted pieces for display, richly jewelled pieces and ivory porcelain in a similar style to Royal Worcester.  Grainger pierced wares were largely the work of Alfred Barry. Unlike the Royal Worcester pierced wares, Grainger designs tend to be curvilinear in style, with the holes following a set pattern created from the mould.

Many of Grainger’s work force transferred to the Royal Worcester factory in 1902 including the famous Stinton family of painters. Even in the early 21st century some of the moulds and designs from Grainger’s factory were still used by Royal Worcester.

Company Ownership

1801–1806
Grainger & Wood
Thomas Grainger and John Wood
1806–1808
Grainger, Wood & Wilkins
Thomas Grainger, John Wood and James Wilkins
1808-1811
Grainger, Wood & Co
Thomas Grainger, John Wood, James Pardoe and Benjamin Crane
1811-1814
Thomas Grainger & Co
Thomas Grainger, John Lee, Thomas Pardoe and Benjamin Crane
1814-1839
Grainger, Lee & Co
Thomas Grainger and James Lee
1839-1889
George Grainger & Co
George Grainger
1889-1902
Grainger & Co.
Owned by Royal Worcester

Grainger Factory Marks

Grainger & Co, Worcester
c.1805–1811
Hand written script
G.Grainger, Worcester
c.1805–1811
Hand written script
Grainger, Wood & Co Worcester
c.1805–1811
Hand written script
Grainger & Co
c.1811–1814
Painted or printed
Grainger, Lee & Co
c.1814–1839
G Grainger & Co Worcester
c.1839–1869
Grainger Worcester
c.1850–1875
Semi porcelain

Year letters that occur under Royal China Works mark from 1891–1902

A = 1891 B = 1892 C = 1893 D = 1894
E = 1895 F = 1896 G = 1897 H = 1898
I = 1899 J = 1900 K =1901 L = 1902

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