Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Dusting down that china souvenir of the Great War.............. stories behind the book nu 4

An occasional series on the stories behind the new book on Manchester and the Great War.*

I doubt I will ever know who bought this bit of crested china.

It belongs to my old friend David Harrop and when he first showed it to me I thought it might have been bought by someone with a connection to HMS Manchester, but a quick bit of research has revealed that of the five ships bearing the name none served in the Great War.

Now that bold statement opens me up to a challenge but if I have missed a First World War HMS Manchester someone will tell me.

In the meantime I can only assume it was acquired by someone who liked crested china, and apparently there were lots of people who did.

According to one source they “were popular souvenirs with many people who travelled in the years immediately before the First World War, especially at seaside resorts. 

Crested china was typically bought on holidays or day-trips to the places on the crest, and carefully carried home. 

During the First World War, holidays continued to be possible at most coastal resorts, despite defensive works on, in particular, the East and South coasts and the makers began to create designs related to war time."

And David has others in his collection including a fine range of tanks all with the crest of a different place.

So I guess this bit of hollow white crested china which will have been manufactured in thousands was just one of a batch to have Manchester’s coat of arms and would have sat on the shelf with others bearing the names of Liverpool, Glasgow, London and Belfast.

It was made by the Arcadian company of Stoke-on-Trent who in peace time would have turned out figurines, local museum antiques and functional items like ring trees, stamp boxes and pin trays.
Nor were they the only company.  There was also Carlton, Grafton, Shelly, Swallow, Willow, Art and WH Goss.

But despite the huge numbers that must have been turned out I find it remarkable that many have survived the full century.

In our house they may well have had a short life.

The chances are they would have been dropped and broken, or more likely discarded when the war came to an end with just a lingering period having first been consigned to a back bedroom and then by degrees a cupboard before ending in the bin.

I am glad this one survived and with it a reminder of the Great War and I rather think it will takes its place in the book.

Location; Heaton Mersey

Picture; crested souvenir, HMS Manchester, circa 1914-1918, from the collection of David Harrop and first seen on ebay

*Manchester and the Great War, Andrew Simpson, was published in February 2017,

**Crested China, Fergus Read, IWM,

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