The history of Philip Laureston and his pottery business is somewhat complex.
The following is an extract from a now defunct website (www.laurestondesigns.co.uk,
which you can find on the web archive of over 150 billion old web pages at www.archive.org)
which gives a potted history of the family business plus.
Whilst my interest is in the houses I am well aware that the various potteries produced
a wide range of other items. One kind correspondent has lent me a number of price
lists and catalogues from her collection and I have included these here (Non Houses)
for those who are interested.
I have no information on Toni Raymond but I have seen references to him in collectibles
Babbacombe Pottery 1949 - 1999
Babbacombe Pottery was founded in 1949 as the restrictions of war were being lifted
and people were starting to think about holidays and enjoying themselves again. It
was one of a number of such potteries located in the Torquay and Torbay area of Devon
(where souvenir items became an important part of output) which are today collectively
known as ‘Torquay Pottery’.
Babbacombe is located on the outskirts of Torquay and it seems the pottery gained
some exposure from a visit by Princess Margaret in the 1950’s. Her polka dot dress
was said to be the basis of the trademark polka dots used on their items.
The pottery changed hands in 1967 and went into the production of kitchen wares.
Twenty years later in 1987 Philip Laureston took over and moved the product lines
back towards the gift ware market,
Philip worked at the pottery until 1996 when it was sold again, finally closing down
in 2000. (The section is a synopsis of an item I found on the Internet consisting
of a scanned page of Collect It magazine of May 2001).
Lauriana Studio 1963 - 1973
I have no information on this pottery but based on the dates I presume it was the
name Philip Laureston traded under before he formed Philip Laureston Designs.
Philip Laureston Designs 1973 - 1998
In 1973 Philip took on Philip Laureston Designs as his new business name, working
from home, hand modelling the now famouse animal figurines. Each of these simple
shapes were made in 60 seconds then fired in a kiln before going out to artists to
be painted. On their return they were then glazed by Philip's sister, Bryony and
It was not long before the business had to expand to meet demand, so a move to 52a
Torre Hill Road was undertaken and space was found for staff to work on the premises.
Machines were introduced to speed up manufacture. A press machine increased the production
from 60 handmade per hour to a possible 600 per hour.
After participation in trade exhibitions in Paris, New York and the NEC markets were
opened in the USA Europe and Australia. This prompted another move in 1979 to the
old Herald Express printing office in the centre of Torquay. At this time the miniature
houses were introduced to the production, and Bryony started her own business, hand
modelling gifts for the craft market.
In 1987 Laureston Designs was on the move again, buying Babbacombe Pottery from Toni
Raymond Ltd. and amalgamating the two businesses under one roof . Staff numbers were
expand to 40, manufacturing and opening the doors to visitors to see pottery being
made and ‘having a go' themselves at painting and throwing on the potters' wheel.
Babbacombe Pottery PLD 1987- 1999
Philip Laureston Designs took over the Babbacombe Pottery site with its skilled staff
in 1987, after a full refurbishment of the buildings. This included a new café and
tea gardens, new shop front and extra parking. The Pottery now opened its doors to
the public who could see how everything was done and then have a go!
A large and varied range of giftware was produced, with traditional and new products
keeping 40 key workers on their toes. The pottery was open 7 days a week, supplying
gifts worldwide and trading successfully until being forced to close in 1999 due
to heavy competition form cheaper imported goods and rising costs.
An unusual method of glazing for pottery had been developed. An electrostatic spray
plant was installed, together with a home-built kiln which enabled the pottery to
produce large decorative items, a range of Beatrix Potter garden figurines and coffee
Electrostatic spraying is a well known technology in other industries but not in
the pottery industry. Pottery is better known as an insulator, the hand-painted items
were wet when sprayed and this moisture conducted the electricity. This appeared
to make great savings on the cost of production and it was two years later that the
opposite was found to be the case when the Electricity Board realised they had been
misreading the meter by putting the decimal point in the wrong place. Although a
repayment plan was available, It was another ‘nail in the coffin' for the ailing
The Pottery traded for one more year under Administrators, with a skeleton staff.
It then had a new lease of life when it was bought by Brian Lownds Pateman but he
suffered a similar fate 12 months later. The site is now a business park.
Laureston Designs 1998 - 2012
Laureston Designs was incorporated in 1998 by Philip Laureston who with his son Kieran
specialises in the production of novelty and collectable bottle stoppers. I understand
that Philip Laureston sold his interests in the business in 2012.