Stonham’s Teapot Pottery rises from the ashes

Carter's Teapot Pottery studio and shop reopens tomorrow ANL-140212-151549001
Carter's Teapot Pottery studio and shop reopens tomorrow ANL-140212-151549001

Suffolk’s Teapot Pottery will open to the public again tomorrow almost six months after a fire which almost killed the business.

The pottery was founded in Debenham in 1978, as Carter Ceramic Designs, by Tony Carter who sold it to Brett Hawksbee in 2013. It moved to Stonham Barns at Stonham Aspal in June this year.

All that was left of the Teapot Pottery's studio after the fire. ANL-140212-151538001

All that was left of the Teapot Pottery's studio after the fire. ANL-140212-151538001

But only two weeks after the move, a milkman spotted a fire which wrecked the building.

Brett said: “It wasn’t nice to be standing there looking at what it did. It was horrible, particularly after we had spent a lot of money and effort getting everything right for the pottery to move there.

“One thing I was touched by was that the first response from people was ‘is everybody OK?’ – it’s quite heartening, that property was not the first thing people thought of.”

What the fire did not destroy, smoke wrecked, but in one respect, luck was on the pottery’s side.

Brett explained: “We had professional kiln movers but the night before they arrived pressure of work meant we had hired a kiln. That kiln was too hot to move so it was still in the Debenham building when the Stonham Barn one caught fire. It was extremely lucky.

“They’re not sitting around in warehouses. You have to order them and it would have been three months before a kiln was built.”

Instead, he had to call Tony, who was on a boat in the south of France, and ask if they could move back into the Debenham building.

Brett added: “The last six months have been a very challenging time for what is a small local business and without the efforts of every member of the pottery’s small team of staff, the fire could well have seen another British manufacturer and exporter bite the dust.

“To stand and watch the pottery burn was, without doubt, the low point of 2014 for me, but we have managed to meet orders and keep the business going entirely because of the dedication of staff and, in many cases, the hands-on help of their partners.

“I would not be in business were it not for them.”

The pottery exports about half its production of hand made, colectable pots. Clients include Bloomingdales and Macy’s in the USA and its teapots can be found on Cunard’s QEII and Queen Mary.

One of their best known is in the shape of a Harrod’s bag.

The pottery has also been commissioned to create a pot to mark the 50th anniversary of the television puppet show Thunderbirds in 2015.

The reborn Teapot Pottery will open at 9am tomorrow with a definite Christmas feel, helped by mulled wine and mince pies, and bargains on many of its best known and collectable items. Visit www.cartersofsuffolk.com