New clay manufacturing firm launched saving specialist craftspeople

Two former employees of historic firm Shaws of Darwen have come together to form a new clay manufacturing business Darwen Terracotta Limited (DTL).

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In May this year Shaws closed its architectural terracotta and faience division to concentrate on sink manufacture, resulting in 39 redundancies. DTL founding directors Jon Wilson from Clitheroe and Steve Allen, saw this exit from the architectural ceramics market as an ideal opportunity to set up a new business, producing terracotta and faience to re-employ the very specialist craftspeople from Darwen and Blackburn.

Jon Wilson said:"When Shaws closed its architectural division this left a big gap in the market for both restoration and new build products.

"We were market leaders in hand-made terracotta and faience and were experiencing a very buoyant market with the largest order book in my 35 years with the company. Our reputation was outstanding, having completed some of the most prestigious buildings in both the UK and USA.

“It was very important to Steve and myself that we could re employ our friends and re-build the team that has been so successful for so many years. The product is so specialised that that we could not see the loss of skills that Darwen and Blackburn have been famous for since the 19th century.

"Since starting the business the response and support from the industry has been amazing and our team cannot be praised enough for their enthusiasm in getting this up and running. We are delighted to be able to offer this skill and experience to the market once again.”

DTL is already off to a flying start, securing a number of sizable restoration projects, including Wigan Town Hall, Harrods Department Store, Soho Theatre and three projects for London Underground. This, coupled with a large new build contract at Clerkenwell, London, is keeping the 25 new employees busy at the 36,000 square foot factory at Whitebirk.