170 Years of Innovation, Resilience & Charm…

2021 is a landmark year for Burleigh as we celebrate our 170th Anniversary.


With rich heritage and an incredible design archive spanning over almost two centuries, it is the expertise, outstanding craftsmanship and timeless style that are the enduring qualities that make Burleigh the British name most associated with beautiful tableware used for entertaining and bringing people together all around the world; infusing our ware with the skills of our talented craftsmen for 170 years.

Crafting excellence since 1851 with skills that never age. From our home to yours for 170 years; but our time is now. It always has been. But how did we get here? To celebrate our anniversary year, it is important to us to look back over the years to see the true innovation, resilience and charm that has flowed through our business over these years.

In July of 1851, it all began when ‘Hulme & Booth’ founded a pottery business manufacturing Earthenware. Little is known about Mr Booth and Thomas Hulme, but it is known that amongst their wares was non other than ‘Asiatic Pheasants’. The pattern that remains with us from the earliest of days and is now a true icon of Burleigh Pottery.

Fast forward 11 years when Rathbone Burgess and William Leigh formed a partnership and took over from Hulme & Booth. Their skills combined set ‘Burgess & Leigh’ apart from the myriad of manufacturers in the area around this time. They went on to develop the site that remains today, Middleport Pottery, which was known for being a model factory, replete with he most modern technology and a specially designed layout to help the flow of the factory.

They continued to manage the business and in 1903 the ‘Burleigh’ pattern was produced, giving rise to a new brand name which is now known worldwide as a true icon of British luxury and design. 

In 1968 another pattern was released. Calico was born and has since been in continuous production since that very date.

In 1999 the Burleigh  Factory Shop first opened its doors, now a much loved element of the Burgess & Leigh brand and a tourist attraction in its own right, and housed in the former ‘export warehouse’ at Middleport Pottery, the factory shop is home to the largest selection of Burleigh ware in the world.

Each piece carefully handcrafted at the Middleport Pottery since the model factory was built in 1889. It continues to be perfectly situated amongst the original elements of the pottery, conveying years of heritage, swathed in authenticity and provenance.

Since 2015, Burleigh has been the sole preserver of tissue transfer printing for well over two decades. Unfortunately, the loss of skill within the industry made it impossible for Burleigh o maintain its archive, so Burleigh looked back to their founders and the way they had embraced modernity 127 years prior to improve their factory conditions. We invested in research and looked once again to bring technology into the fold to preserve the skills of our unique decoration. 

A new pattern from Burleigh is rare, a new Burleigh collection is unheard of in the company’s 169-year history. But in 2020, Burleigh were thrilled to introduce Collection One, the first collection of Burleighware.

Handcrafted by our artisans at our home, Middleport Pottery, Collection One is infused with our unrivalled style and celebrates the way Burleigh has been decorating its wares with traditional tissue transfer since it began in 1851. This iconic tissue transfer process has been given a new challenge! Hand crafted to be combined, layered and curated, Collection One tells a story of a floral lifecycle. From plant cell structure, to abundant blooms, to the industrious bee that pollenates from flower to flower. On this new and exciting stage of our journey, we take a step forward from our signature blue hues, Collection One is decorated using a new shade, coined ‘Ink Blue’. Palisade, Hibiscus and Pollen represent the past, present and future of this most-admired pottery mark, bridging the great design work of Burleigh’s past with Burleigh’s place in contemporary luxury design today.

So today we both reflect upon our past, but also eagerly look towards a bright future for Burleigh Pottery; continuing with our handcrafted charm and the same resilience that we have done for the past 170 years.


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