I came across this article today: Lionel Burman, 'The Wedgwoods and the Doctors', Medical Historian [The Bulletin of the Liverpool Medical History Society], No. 13, 2002-2003. The article can be accessed here: http://www.lmi.org.uk/medical_society/13/13Burman.pdf
Monday, 25 May 2009
Sunday, 24 May 2009
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Saturday, 23 May 2009
Despite the sad loss of the last vestige of family influence at the iconic Wedgwood Pottery earlier this year – covered in this blog passim – 2009 is very much "The Year of Wedgwood". Members of the wider Wedgwood clan will be interested to note that both the Royal Mail and Royal Mint have, in their own way, issued products which commemorate the achievements of two family members.
In January the Royal Mail issued a set of stamps, for general release and in collector's packs, in honour of Charles Darwin born two hundred years ago in 1809. This year also marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of his ground-breaking and controversial book On the Origin of Species (1859).
A few months later the Royal Mail issued a set of stamps dedicated to titans of the Industrial Revolution – our very own Josiah Wedgwood featured on the 50p stamp. I was pleased to be able to use this stamp to send out the 'thank you' for gifts given to our son Thomas for his Christening. This is surely the only time when consecutive special edition stamps have features a grandson and grandfather? Further, it must be noted that the Royal Mint has issued three different commemorative £2 coins: 1) "Brilliant Uncirculated coin", 2) "silver proof" and 3) "gold proof" for Charles Darwin which must be a similarly rare confluence of events. Don't forget that dear old Charles is also on the reverse of the Bank of England ten pound note so appearing on two currency formats at once must also be quite rare for a non-royal?
Sunday, 17 May 2009
Ruth Padel, poet and travel writer, and a double descendant of Josiah Wedgwood I, Chair of the UK Poetry Society 2004-2007 and currently Resident Poet at Christ's College Cambridge has been elected to the Post of Professor of Poetry at Oxford University. Ruth is the first women to hold the 300-year-old poetry post. The appointment is for a term of five years, and chosen through an election open to all "members of Convocation." Her most recent book is Darwin: a life in poems  a publication which marks the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, her great-great grandfather.
Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795) + Sarah Wedgwood (3rd cousin) =
Susannah Wedgwood + Robert Darwin =
Charles Darwin (1809-1882) + Emma Wedgwood (1st cousin) =
Sir Horace Darwin (1851-1928) + Hon. Emma Cecilia "Ida" Farrer (1854–1946) =
Emma Nora Darwin (1885-1989) + Sir James Alan Noel Barlow
Hilda Horatia Barlow (b.1919) + John Hunter Padel =
Ruth Sophia Padel (b.1946)
Ruth Padel – Personal website.
[26th May] Ruth Padel has resigned the post to allow a re-election free of controversy. BBC: "Oxford Poet 'Sorry' over Vote Row."
Friday, 15 May 2009
The Sentinel: Friday, May 15, 2009, 09:20
As workers at two of the world's most famous china brands come to terms with 225 more potential redundancies, members of the Wedgwood family are angry at plans to transfer more production to Indonesia. Here, cousins Tom R Wedgwood and Tom D Wedgwood argue that the policy of Wedgwood's and Royal Doulton's new U.S.-based owners is shortsighted and damaging.We are profoundly dismayed and angry at the announcement yesterday that there could be up to a further 225 manufacturing job losses at Barlaston. This is likely to be followed up by administration job losses as well.Pierre de Villeméjane, chief executive officer of new owners WWRD may have used a velvet tongue to talk about "significant production remaining at Barlaston" but his iron fist is crippling production and in the long term threatens to destroy Wedgwood.
Let's get this absolutely clear. We, the direct descendants of Josiah Wedgwood, do not support the production of Wedgwood in Indonesia. It is not staying true to Josiah, his legacy or the excellence of ceramics craftsmanship in Stoke-on-Trent. Or let's put it another way – if it's not made in England it's not Wedgwood.
There will now only be around 150 employed in manufacturing Wedgwood in Staffordshire, compared to more than 1,500 in Indonesia. This is purely token manufacturing. Pierre and Michael Psaros, the boss at WWRD's parent company KPS, surely do not think that producing a few tableware lines and a few Prestige pieces in Stoke will be enough to fool astute global consumers? These redundancies will involve the loss of jobs in the Prestige special skills departments as well as the long-serving potters whose skills can never be truly replaced. It is a tragedy for the Potteries and for Josiah Wedgwood's legacy.
When we carried out due diligence as part of our bid to buy the company out of administration, the financial analysis proved that in the medium and long term it makes financial sense to develop the brand as a uniquely Staffordshire luxury product. It makes commercial and financial sense because consumers expect that when they pay £25 or more for a plate that it is designed, manufactured and decorated in Stoke. That is the only way consumers can guarantee they are buying the "unrivalled heritage" that Pierre hopes to cash in on. Why else would consumers make that purchasing decision when they know they can pick up 20 plates for a fiver made in China? We had hoped KPS had realised this. We'd heard rumours that all the media attention might have had an impact on their plans.
KPS are making a major commercial mistake. Wedgwood sales have gone through the floor. Yes, there is a world-wide recession, but there is a deeper underlying reason which Pierre ignores at his peril – suddenly, thanks to the media interest, high-end consumers in these markets have suddenly woken up to the fact that Wedgwood has a factory in Indonesia producing most of its core tableware and hollow-ware. Before January, most global consumers didn't know this. They honestly thought all Wedgwood was made in Stoke, and they've shown their disapproval by walking out of stores saying: "We don't want it." The cat is now out of the bag. Our greatest fear is that Pierre and Michael actually know this but don't care. They simply want to produce tableware in Indonesia and back-stamp it with Wedgwood or Vera Wang and "grow the hell", as they put it, out of the U.S. bridal market while playing lip-service to heritage to sell the odd Prestige piece. Their fundamental belief is that luxury consumers don't care. They're wrong.
Tell the world the truth: how much production will there be in Barlaston compared to Indonesia? Will WWRD still pretend it's made in Staffordshire? Why?
Friday, 1 May 2009
A bitter sweet day for the Wedgwood clan today (May 1st) as Wedgwood's 250th Anniversary is formally celebrated. 250 years ago today a young Josiah Wedgwood set up business for himself at the Ivy House Works, property rented from his cousins John and Thomas Wedgwood of the Big House, Burslem.
Despite the efforts of members of the family to buy the company when it went into administration in January, it was bought by Private Equity outfit KPS. Their new vision is for just the Visitor Centre and a small manufactory presence producing “Prestige Items”. Royal Worcester did the same – to no great effect.
According to the BBC, Lord Wedgwood, now apparently taking the KPS shilling, officially launched the festivities. The Award winning Wedgwood Museum, independent of the company and deserving of our continued support has set admission at a special anniversary entry price of £2.50 per person, instead of the usual £9.50, from today until Monday.