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date: 21 November 2019

Belleek Porcelain Factorylocked

  • Sean McCrum


Irish ceramics factory. It was built in the village of Belleek, Co. Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, between 1857 and 1863, when production began. The factory was close to sources of such essential materials as feldspar, kaolin, flint, shale and water. During the early years potters from Staffordshire, England, were employed to assist in the technical developments at the factory. The pottery was funded by the Dublin entrepreneur David McBirney (d 1884), who also owned shares in the Sligo and Bundoran Railway; a branch line was built to the factory, which aided distribution. The architect Robert Williams Armstrong (d 1884) probably designed the factory building and was the factory’s first artistic director. He was particularly interested in developing high-fired ceramic bodies, especially stoneware and porcelain. Three types of wares were produced at the factory: utilitarian, transfer-printed earthenwares, which continued to be made until 1947; stonewares, including telegraphic insulators and vases, and porcelain. Belleek is most famous for its very thin porcelain, the glaze of which has a nacreous lustre; wares included vases, centrepieces, sweetmeat dishes (e.g. of ...

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