Ramekin is thought to come from a Dutch word for "toast" or the German for "little cream."




Ramequin, Ramekin dish.


(ramə kin)[RAM-ih-kihn]ræməkin


English Noun




A type of dish




French Ramequin from Low German ramken, diminutive of cream, circa 1706. middle Dutch rammeken (cheese dish) dialect variant of rom (cream), similar to old English ream and German rahm. Ancient French cookbooks refer to ramekins as being garnished fried bread.


1. A food mixture, (casserole) specifically a preparation of cheese, especially with breadcrumbs and/or eggs or unsweetened pastry baked on a mould or shell.

2. With a typical volume of 50-250 ml (2-8 oz), it is a small fireproof glass or earthenware individual dish similar in size and shape to a cup, or mould used for cooking or baking and serving sweet or savoury foods.

3. Formerly the name given to toasted cheese; now tarts filled with cream cheese.

4. A young child usually between the ages of 3 months and 11 years exhibiting a compulsion to force or "ram" their head into various objects and structures.

These days, a ramekin is generally regarded as a small single serve heatproof serving bowl used in the preparation or serving of various food dishes, designed to be put into hot ovens and to withstand high temperatures. They were originally made of ceramics but have also been made of glass or porcelain, commonly in a round shape with an angled exterior ridged surface. Ramekins have more lately been standardized to a size with a typical volume of 50-250 ml (2-8 ounce) and are now used for serving a variety of sweet and savoury foods, both entrée and desert.

They are also an attractive addition to the table for serving nuts,dips and other snacks. Because they are designed to hold a serving for just one person, they are usually sold in sets of four, six, or eight. Ramekins now are solid white, round, with a fluted texture covering the outside, and a small lip. Please bear in mind that whatever you ask for them on Internet auction sites, someone is still getting the same thing in an op shop for peanuts.

However, there are hundreds of decorative ramekins that came in a variety of shapes and sizes. They came in countless colours and finishes and many were made by our leading artists and ceramicists. My collection has ramekins with One handle only, fixed to the body at one point only. If it has no handle, it is a bowl. If it has two, it is a casserole dish. But the glory day of the Australian Studio Art ramekin is well and truly over. See some here, ask questions or leave answers.

P.S. Remember, just as real men don't eat quiche, real ramekins don't have lids or two handles. Also remember, two handles makes it a casserole dish. Also, please note If it aint got a handle, it's just a bowl.

P.P.S. To all you cretins who advertise your ramekins by associating them with "Eames" or "Eames Era". Get your hand off it, you are not kidding anyone. The Eames people have told me that they never made ramekins.

P.P.P.s To all the illiterates out there in cyberspace, just as there is no "I" in team, there is no "G" in Ramekin. I am the Rameking, they are ramekins.

If you have a set of Grandma's ramekins at the back of a kitchen cupboard, have a look through the site, maybe you will identify them. Thank-you for looking.

There are many of you out there that have knowledge of Australian pottery. Please let me know if you have anything that I can add to the notes. It is important to get the information recorded. You probably know something that nobody else does.

Please note that while your comments are most welcome, any that contain a link to another site will no longer be published.


Friday, January 20, 2012

Staffordshire Potteries Ltd


Staffordshire Potteries Ltd
“Made in England”
 moulded into base around footring.
Black ink stamp to base
“Staffordshire Potteries LTD
Made in England” with logo “SP" in black square.
White ironstone straight sided bowl with indented circular footring, stem handle affixed to center of exterior
Tan floral pattern to exterior
Very Good

Production Date
Length (with handle)
Waverley Antiques Market 19 Jan 2011
Rameking Reference Number
STA 001-011

Nerd Alert Nerd Alert Nerd Alert Nerd Alert Nerd Alert Nerd Alert Nerd Alert.

This post has become the most popular on my blog.  Thanks for looking, and please take the opportunity to look at the rest of the site.   Strap yourselves in folks, its going to be a bumpy ride. Make youself a cup of something, preferably in an English dinnerware mug and settle down. The interweb will tell you that “Staffordshire Potteries Ltd” grew out of the Keele Street Pottery Company Tunstall, Stoke On Trent, Staffordshire, England, starting around 1915. Don't confuse this pottery with the County of Staffordshire where over 1,500 different potteries have operated over the past few centuries.

Trying to unscramble the movement of people and the myriad company names throughout Staffordshire over the late 19th and early 20th centuries is like trying to knit cooked spaghetti. Like many things, that is only part of the story. Here is a bit more, but first, let me get on my soap box. Read on, it does make some sense.

"Money is a good servant, but a poor master." So said Dominique Bouhours, a French Jesuit author who died in 1702. Sadly, the potteries of Staffordshire have long suffered from the vicissitudes of the nervous Merchant Banker. And yes, I definitely do mean the rhyming slang. In many cases, nervous Lawyers and Accountants have been their downfall.

Rameking business advice number one; never, never ever let a lawyer or accountant make a business decision for you. Don’t ever let anyone else sign the cheques. You know your business, they only think they do and will try to convince you otherwise. Certainly consider their advice, they know the administrative side, but you know the business. Rule two: If you find a lawyer or accountant that you would trust to let run your business, remember Rule One.  If you want an example, look at what happened over at Denby after their management buyout.

Rameking business advice numer two; If you need a consultant to tell you what your business problems are and how to fix them, then you are the problem. If you or your managers don't have the skills to run the business and prepare for the future then you have got the wrong people. Too many people today don’t make products, they simply buy something someone else has made successful then run it into the ground. Joke? Question; How does an Englishman run a small business; Answer, start with a large one.

Staffordshire potteries grew in the days before the rise of the business consultant and were built by people with drive and vision. Don’t be fooled by the “overseas competition”, or “cheap imports” argument. Design is what is important. Make what people want to buy, its as simple as that. Fashion changes, change with it. Many potteries that were absorbed into conglomerates did not fail because of their sales. Look at pottery and automotive works today, most are automated and wages are not a big part of the total. Pay sales and marketing people, not accountants.  Again, look at Denby.

Emerging markets have diminished Staffordshire as a world centre, but it is still a major employer and producer of ceramics, exporting all over the world. Anyway, enough on the soap-box.

Staffordshire is the centre of the universe for us Anglo-Celtics so far as pottery is concerned. Its name is derived from the Old English “Staith”, meaning “landing place” and “Ford” being a place to cross a river. It is a landlocked Midlands County in England being bounded by Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Shropshire, Derbyshire and Cheshire.

It contains all the raw materials needed for pottery making, being coal for the kilns, lead and salt for the glazes and clay for the bodies, although much of the clay today comes from Cornwall. It has a network of canals built from the 17th Century onwards that transported much of their early produce and some of those canals were still making a profit when they were nationalized in 1949.

Before glass became popular, pottery bottles and pots were used as the main containers for everyday goods. Things such as butter pots, are almost unknown today. Stoneware bottles held cider for most of the south.   Historically, it can trace origins back to around 900 BC but it really took off after Alfred the Great’s daughter Aethelflaed fortified the town against the Danes. Maybe Alfred learnt his cooking skills from her brickmaking. Pottery making there has been traced back to before the 15th century.

Most pottery comes from the six towns that comprise what is now Stoke on Trent; Stoke, Tunstall, Burslem, Fenton, Longton and Hanley, but people forget the other areas that were once separate towns that also made pottery, such as Longport, Cobridge and Lane End.  Next time you see a pothole in the road, be aware that the term originated in Staffordshire when people would actually dig their clay directly from the side of roads, leaving “potholes”.

Staffordshire Potteries Limited was one of those evolved companies whose origins went way back. The name began in 1915. It all gets horribly complicated so check out more of the backgrounds on the web. Their works were later located on a disused airport site in the early 1960s and over the next ten to fifteen years or so they acquired a number of other potteries. From the mid 1980s, they were the worlds’ largest producer of mugs. There are probably a few in your tea-room at work or hidden away at the back of your cupboard at home, because they made a lot of corporate and promotional mugs.

They were taken over in a strategic buyout in 1986 by the Coloroll Group, a home furnishings group from Manchester. Coloroll had also taken over Denby, Biltons and Edinburgh Crystal. In an early effort of what has become known as “Vertical Integration”, they wanted to control the sale of home furnishings and Dinnerware across a wide cross section of the domestic market. Denby engaged in a management buy-out when Coloroll later had financial problems, not related to their pottery holdings.

In another management buyout, Coloroll Ceramics Division, in 1990 sold what became “Staffordshire Tableware”, who continuing to make promotional mugs. Another trendy management buzzword, “outsourcing” sent some production abroad in 1994 to the Philippines, where it was made by the Reliant Company of Taiwan, an Asian company with its own outsourcing. They also imported product from India that they sold under the “Freestyle Badge. Problems associated with outsourcing included quality control, delivery deadlines and stock control. This puts your firms reputation into other hands. Not so reliant then.

This, like many management buzzword decisions was eventually abandoned. Fortunately in this case, in time. Unfortunately in 2000 the Bank of Scotland did what time and the global economy had failed to do in almost a century, they had refused to extend its loans. Receivers blamed overseas competition. I think, like in the case of Tams, it was to use the old Scottish expression, “Nervous Nellies” in banking.

And so kiddies, remember, because it bears repeating what old uncle Rameking says, "Money is a good servant, but a poor master." So said Dominique Bouhours, a French Jesuit author who died in 1702. Sadly, the potteries of Staffordshire have long suffered from the vicissitudes of the nervous Merchant Banker. And yes, I definitely do mean the rhyming slang. In many cases, nervous Lawyers and Accountants have been their downfall.

The four people who began Keele Street Pottery came from long established pottery families in the area. Charles H Bowers began with Booths, Church Bank Pottery in Tunstall, Stoke on Trent. Charles was the son of Frederick Bowers who ran the G.F. Bowers & Co pottery until it failed in 1871. That pottery was then taken over by James Eardley who ran it as Brownhills until it was taken over by Salt Brothers in 1897 then Thomas Till and Son of Burslem in 1904 until 1928. Charles’ son C.G Bowers followed him from Booths to Keele Street in 1946. Charles Snr died in 1961.

Elijah Brookes, born 1846 in Kingswinford was an Engineer and inventor. He was responsible for inventing the type of drill bit we all use today. Unfortunately Whitworth, the company he worked for at the time patented it and Elijah missed out on all those royalties. He has a number of patents to his name, including a couple for pottery making, such as centering and trimming mugs and standardizing the fixing of handles. Elijah died at Congleton, Cheshire in March 1933 at the ripe old age of 87.

Elijah Brookes

J.A. Robinson also came from a family with a long history of pottery making. Wiltshire and Robinson became Carlton Ware; Robinson and Son, Cheatham and Robinson; Robinson and Wood, Robinson Wood and Brownhill to name a few. J.A Robinson and Sons Ltd had previously taken over the Porcelain works of Thomas and Charles Ford in Hanley in 1904.  Don't try to chase the Robinsons around Stoke, there are hundreds of them, but I think this one was James Alcock Robinson 1852 to 1931.  James had left Carlton Ware in April 1911 after a split of the Directors.

H.W.Pitt is recorded on other websites as being their Technical Manager, responsible for the development of their “once Fired” process that they used to make cups.  Here is a bit more about him, he deserves it.  Henry Wilfred Pitt was born in Seville Spain, 1877.  In 1891 he was a student at St Wilfred’s College, Cotton Hall Cotton Cheadle Staffordshire, later qualifying as a Mechanical Engineer.  He married Violet Cecilia Brookes, the daughter of Elijah and Mary Ellen Brookes of Longton in 1907.   (I told you it was like knitting spaghetti).  In 1919 he was elected as member of Institute of Automotive Engineers and subsequently submitted numerous articles to their magazine.  Henry was also President of the Staffordshire County Amateur Swimming Association in 1936.  After his retirement, Henry moved to Cornwall and made a trip back to Spain with two of his children in 1931.   Henry died in March 1945 age 68.

The chronology of the company goes something like this;

Pottery began in Keele Street, just off the A50, Tunstall near the rounabout. It is now just another run down area in a depressed former industrial town. Keele is a region of Staffordshire.

Thanks toMr Pitt, they began producing their “Once Fired” egg cups.  Ceramic usually contains a lot of water that is dried off before firing. Then the clay is usually bisque fired, that is, fired at a relatively low temperature. After removal and cooling, the body is then decorated and/or glazed, then fired again. Once-firing means just what it says because the glaze is applied before the body is fired, combining both the bisque and glost firing, saving a lot of time, effort and cost.

Elijah Brookes patented several methods of more efficiently making cups and attaching their handles.  The device had been developed during the First World War and there were more important things to worry about than tea cups.

The factory closed temporarily during the Second World War as a result of the “Concentration of Industries Act 1941. The whole of England was on a war footing and the Pottery site was used as a warehouse to store shell casings.   In July 1942, the British War Production Board had announced that it had concentrated production of fifty industries releasing over 250,000 workers for military service.  The program was so successful that in 1942, only four more industries could be added.  By 1943, no more were added.  By then over 55 million square feet of factory space was freed for other wartime purposes.

Keele Street Pottery was re-opened by Charles Griffiths Bowers, Charles H’s son, making once-fired cups using five bottle ovens, a type of Kiln, a familiar sight on the landscape in Stoke. Bottle kilns were used until the late 20th century.

As servicemen returned to civilian life, production of ornamental and decorative wares increased and Keele Street began a period of expansion, acquiring a number of other potteries in the area.

They purchased;
Paramount Pottery Ltd (Hanley) who made cups and cottage ware.
 Winterton Pottery Ltd (Longton) who made dinner and tea ware
Thomas Cone Ltd, Alma Works (Longton) who made dinner and tea ware
Collingwood Bone China Ltd, 
Conway Pottery Ltd (Fenton) who made white cups
 Picadilly Pottery (Tunstall) who were wholesalers 
 Lawton Pottery (Tunstall)

1948          The web tells us that the South Western Industrial Gas and Water Corporation purchased 49% of the shares in Keele Street Pottery. Although there is no record of such an entity. Most likely it was one of the precursors to Severn Water because Stafforshire Potteries had their own Water Board from 1847 until the late 1970s. Its name only appears on websites associated with Keele Street, probably a case of people just copying someone else.

1950         Keele changed their name to Staffordshire Potteries Ltd and later became a public company. Going public means issuing and selling shares, floating on a stock exchange and getting an idea of the market value of the company.

 1951 to 1955

The company leased buildings on Uttoxeter Road on the 38 acre site at the disused Meir Airport that operated from 1909, and by 1963 most of their operations were consolidated there. (John Meir & Sons operated a pottery at Tunstall from 1837 to 1897.) The airstrip was still operational and they flew a DeHavilland Dove from there as a company plane. Flying ceased in 1973. The site is now a housing estate.
DeHavilland DH 104 Dove
1954                   The Paramount Pottery that began in 1946 closed.

1963         The Thomas Cone and Conway Potteries closed. Cone first opened in 1892, Conway in 1930. All Staffordshire Potteries Ltd production, administration and sales were centralized at the airport site.

Staffordshire Potteries Ltd Meir Airport

1972    The “Kilncraft” brand of tablewares was launched, not to be confused with Kilncraft Ceramics Ltd of Hong Kong, a homewares buyer and manufacturer.
1976             A factory shop was opened at the airport site. Factory shops had begun earlier to sell overproduction and left over stock at reduced prices. They are now an industry in their own right.

1979       Staffordshire acquired Royal Winton, begun by the Grimwade brothers in 1885. They produced high quality china. In 1995, they went back to being Grimwades Ltd Trading and still continue today. Staffordshire also bought Taunton Vale Industries who made tableware and kitchen accessories. Another purchase was Salt and McKee of Toronto, later renamed Canadian Classic Fine Bone China Ltd. Canadian acquisitions were probably as a result of the Ottowa Agreement creating a stumbling block to Britains entry into the EU. The Ottowa Agreement gave British manufacturers preference in Canada. Britain had to abandon the agreement in 1973 when it did join the EU. The Canadians however refused to register the “Kilncraft” brand as they considered it misleading “on the grounds that the first impression of a person seeing the mark would be that the wares (tableware) were produced by a kiln process. It followed that if the wares were not produced in this way, the mark would be deceptively misdescriptive”. That’s bureaucrats for you. Anyway, they both closed in 1980, the potteries that is, not Canada.

These ramekins were sold  as a soup set in a box of six bowls and six saucers under the name "Stowaway International."  They were simply a set of cups and saucers with a stem instead of a loop handle.  Anyway, they still qualify as ramekins.  Thanks to Rick for the set.

1980                 The beginning of the microwave age had Staffordshire introduce suitable stoneware dinnerwares. Stoneware is a dense, fine-grained, non-translucent, vitrified clay body that is impervious to liquids and fired at a high temperature (1200º–1350ºC). The clay contains significant amounts of aluminum silicates. Stoneware has partially vitrified bodies and most often are brown, grey or white. An opaque ceramic containing a naturally vitrifying clay e.g., a stoneware clay or a suitable ball clay. Sometimes a non-plastic constituent and a flux are added. Stoneware is known for its colour glaze as it is inferior to porcelain in whiteness. Stoneware bodies are heavier than Porcelain and Fine Bone China and are not transparent and is usually made of local clay. Stoneware is less expensive than both Bone China and Porcelain products. In short, stoneware is fired at a higher temperature to melt the silicates, thus making it less likely to crack in the heat or absorb liquids like an unglazed earthenware body.

1984         Staffordshire Potteries started supplying the Department Store chain Marks and Spencer giving them a greater market penetration. M&S has over 700 stores in the UK and now has 300 stores in 40 countries. They also moved into Canada in 1973.

1985    Staffordshire Potteries were the largest manufacturer of mugs in the world, making over 750,000 per week, including commissioned design for promotional and corporate purposes.

1986                 Staffordshire Potteries was acquired in June by the Manchester home furnishings company Coloroll Group. They also got Biltons Tableware. Coloroll itself went into recievership due to debts of nearly ₤500m in 1990 but still trade today.

1987                   Coloroll bought Crown House Tableware (Glass).  Crown House began in 1935 but the comapny ceased in mid 1988.

1990                  In June, Coloroll went into recievership and in August, a Management buyout created “Staffordshire Tableware.” Royal Winton was also the subject of a Management buyout (Flowergrove Ltd).  In fact, the receivers, Ernst and Young agreed to eight management buyouts.  Most of those companies are still trading.  The timing of these sales was propitious as the recession hit hard soon after and it would have been almost impossible to sell the companies a year later.

1995                  Another mangement buyout, this time for Biltons

1999                 One third of the Meir airport site was sold to Sainsburys Homebase. Some of the site is now housing. On 29th December the company went into recievership.

2000        Staffordshire Tableware went into recievership when the Bank of Scotland failed to extend their ₤6 million loans. Hundreds of workers lost their jobs.

2001       Staffordshire Tableware Worldwide Ltd (Gibraltar) was set up in 2001. They had acquired the designs, equipment and rights to the old Staffordshire Tableware. They continued as Staffordshire Tableware (Romania) in Northern Romania, Maramures County, BaiaMare Street, Warehouse 7. The company commenced in 2001 and in 2010 averaged 48 employees. They make cups and saucers as well as mugs, especially the red and white Nescafe mugs, mainly for export to other European countries. Their raw materials are brought in from Germany and France. Following in their predecessors footsteps, they also make promotional mugs and mass produce for the supermarket and homewares market. 

2005       High gas prices and currency market fluctuations in the let to their products becoming less competitive. Unfortunately insolvency proceedings were issued in 2009 and the future is unclear. Their balance sheets over the past few years make depressing reading. They did make a very small profit in 2010 but were only shown as having two employees.  
2012          Sadly, in September, insolvency proceedings were concluded.

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