This year's birthday adventure took us to Ironbridge Gorge in Shropshire, a World Heritage Site and the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. Our mission? To experience tile heaven at the Jackfield Tile Museum.
Jackfield is housed within the premises of Craven Dunnill, a working tile factory which still produces decorative tiles on-site. The museum showcases the British decorative tile industry between 1840 to 1960, the era when Craven Dunnill and neighbours Maw & Co were the biggest names in the business. Some of the tiles in my collection (and indeed now gracing our bathroom sink) were made by Craven Dunnill and Maw & Co.
Jackfield is one of the oldest known ceramic production centres in Shropshire, believed to date back to the sixteenth century.
Craven Dunnill gave up their premises at Jackfield in 1950 moving to the nearby town of Bridgnorth (where we visited with Ann & Jos in the summer HERE) and the buildings were used by a company making iron and bronze castings. In 1983 with the aid of an Architectural Heritage Fund grant the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust purchased the site. In 1989 tile manufacture restarted at Jackfield and in 2001 Craven Dunnill took over the business.
In 2014 eighty-year old Londoner John Scott donated his collection to Jackfield. He'd been collecting antique tiles since the 1960s and had amassed over 1,500 including those by prestigious makers such as Christopher Dresser, Pugin and William de Morgan . At his home John had displayed his collection on walls and shelves and the museum decided to showcase the donations in a similar way. The museum is unable to display the Scott Collection in its entirety and the collection is regularly rotated.
Jackfield's galleries are an antique tile lover's paradise. The museum has rescued tiles from disused or modernised buildings throughout the UK and faithfully recreated the premises they once adorned. These Covent Garden tiles greeted Victorian commuters on the London Underground.
A Victorian butcher's shop.
A 19th Century church interior.
A 1930s sitting room.
A Victorian pub (there used to be loads of bars like this in Walsall when I first started frequenting drinking establishments in the 1980s!)
And a public lavatory to die for!
These friezes once graced the walls of a London children's hospital in the 1930s.
The museum's collection are clearly labelled by both period and style and are displayed in the beautifully light room in which the tiles were originally produced.
I love those duck egg blues from the Art Deco era.
But my heart belonged to the stunning Arts & Crafts ceramics produced by William de Morgan and distributed by William Morris.
This series of tiles were designed by Salvador Dali.
The John Scott collection is breathtaking.
Pride of place is Antelope by William de Morgan (c.1880), a panel of forty two six inch tiles, rescued from a once grand house in London that had fallen into disrepair. Scott commissioned an expert to recreate the broken tiles and the result is spectacular. The museum displayed it as John Scott had done, above the fireplace in his living room.
After drooling over the exhibits we left Jackfield for a stroll around Ironbridge. Thankfully we'd had our colour fix in the tile museum as the landscape was distinctly grey yesterday. Below is the famous Iron Bridge, from which the town gets its name. It was opened on New Year's Day in 1781.
Fifty-three is looking good so far!
Jackfield Tile Museum
Salthouse Road, Telford TF8 7LJ
Open daily 11am till 5pm (closed Mondays)