Jobs saved as Darwen Terracotta and Faience emerges from Shaws of Darwen liquidation

Clay Technology magazine
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16 Feb 2016

Shaws breakaway maintains faience skills

A new architectural ceramics company, Darwen Terracotta and Faience, has been formed by 25 skilled and experienced craftspeople let go from historic Lancashire-based manufacturer Shaws of Darwen. It follows news in May 2015 that Shaws was liquidating its architectural terracotta arm to focus on its fireclay sink business.

Set up by former Shaws employees Jon Wilson and Steve Allen, the new business comprises members of a team that has worked on notable projects including One Eagle Place, London, and the Grayson Perry-designed A House for Essex, Manningtree – both of which appear in Alexis Harrison’s feature on page 17. 

‘Steve and I have more than 50 years’ combined experience in this industry, having worked on some of the most prestigious building projects in both the UK and USA,’ said Wilson. ‘All of our people have spent most of their working lives in this trade and preserving these skills is vital. We are a close-knit team with a strong commitment from everyone to support the business and succeed together.’ 

A key market for the new company will be in restoration of terracotta and faience heritage buildings, but the team also expects that their design, modelling and bespoke glazed ceramic services will continue to attract architects and interior designers working on new-build projects. 

‘Terracotta and faience is often thought of as a traditional material used in the Victorian period and following the architectural styles of the day up to the middle of the last century. The past 10 years have seen a great revival of the material, giving the designer huge creative freedom due to the almost limitless possibilities in shape, colour and texture,’ said Wilson. 

CITB sets out reforms 

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) has announced it is ‘reforming significantly’ to meet the needs of industry. Following a restructure of its middle management, the CITB aims to reach more employers through online services, improved phone support and face-to-face services via a ‘refocused CITB Advisor role’, which brings together several existing jobs to offer a ‘one-stop shop’ for business information and advice on training.  

‘Too often, our engagement with employers has focused on navigating CITB’s processes rather than looking at what they need,’ said Steve Radley, CITB Director of Policy. ‘This new CITB Advisor role, complemented by online chat, extended phone hours and simpler online processes, means we will be able to support many more employers with advice and funding.

‘These reforms are designed to give the industry maximum return on Levy investment, and a much better service from CITB. Employers will start to see the difference in 2016 and our aim is to have many more construction firms not only engage with us, but get the funding and support they need.’ 

Lucideon offers ceramic search

Stoke-on-Trent-based materials technology company Lucideon is offering free online searches of its World Ceramics Abstracts database for an unspecified, limited period.  

Ann Pace, Information Services Manager at Lucideon, explains, ‘All you need to do is complete an online enquiry form detailing your requirements. We’ll then carry out a search of your subject(s) and keywords, and send back a sample search comprising abstracts of relevant information with full biographical details.’ The resource can be found at www.lucideon.com/search. 

Prayers by the mortar-way

A sports chaplain is campaigning to have a national landmark built by the side of a motorway in Leicestershire – a wall made of a million bricks, each one representing an answered prayer. Richard Gamble, the former chaplain for Leicester City FC, is now calling for sponsors, and the Royal Institute of British Architects has agreed to run a global design competition for the project should he raise the £10 million project cost. Ideas for a better use of 62 semi-detached houses’ worth of bricks on a postcard?