In 1989 the two great Stoke-on-Trent sanitaryware manufacturers of Twyford and Doulton merged. For years they had been the greatest of competitors.

The Twyford and Doulton Sanitaryware logos in 1989

At the time, Twyford was part of the Caradon Group, and Doulton was part of Metal Box (MB) Group. MB already included Stelrad Radiators, Ideal Boilers and Doulton Bathrooms. Metal Box purchased Caradon.

These great industrial rivals of over one hundred years, Twyford Bathrooms and Doulton Bathrooms, came together in a quirk of fate.

It was remarkable how similar their respective logos were, at one time!

A remarkable similarity

In 1989 the old rivalries had to be put aside. An all-new sales office was created for both brands in 1990, at the existing Twyfords Alsager factory.

 Doulton - a remarkable company    

Extract courtesy: Royal Doulton 1815 - 1965. The rise and expansion of the Royal Doulton Potteries by Desmond Eyles. Hutchinson of London, published 1965

The Royal Doulton Potteries have, at one time or another, made almost everything that can be made from clays and other ceramic materials. Among their past and present products we find - on the one hand - tableware in fine earthenware, bone china and English Translucent China (introduced in 1960); figures, character and Toby jugs, animal studies, and flambe wares; and - on the other hand - bricks, tiles and terracotta; garden ware; domestic and industrial stoneware; drain-pipes and sanitaryware; plumbago and fireclay crucibles; chemical-ware, laboratory porcelain; porous ceramics; electrical porcelain; and a host of other items ranging from blacking-bottles in 1815 to precision-made technical ceramics used today in the production of jet engines. This extraordinary versatility has given Doulton a unique place in the annals of pottery-making in England or any other country.

Company Motto: "Full kilns and empty yards" - Henry Doulton, 1897, at his new pipe works in St.Helens.

 Doulton and Sanitaryware     

Extract courtesy: The Doulton Story - a souvenir booklet by Paul Atterbury and Louise Irvine for the exhibition held at The Victoria and Albert Museum, London in August 1979

Henry Doulton was one of the first to realise the full implications of the sanitary revolution that was under way by the 1840s.

Standards of public health and hygiene had been low for centuries but the spread of industrialisation during the late 18th and early 19th centuries had caused a rapid decline. Cholera and similar diseases were increasingly common in London and other major cities, and so public pressure upon the Government to control the situation mounted.

Much of this pressure was directed by Edwin Chadwick who was to earn the title, ‘The Father of Sanitary Science’. Chadwick was instrumental in persuading Henry Doulton to enter the field of sanitary production, having convinced him in 1845, that the stoneware pipe would be the basis of the sanitary revolution.

1840 Doulton & Watts Lambeth High Street Factory
1840 Doulton & Watts Lambeth High Street Factory

Doulton decided to open a special factory at Lambeth in 1845 to concentrate on the production of stoneware pipes. The success of this factory, and the increasing demand for sanitary pipes led to the opening of additional factories, at St. Helens in 1847, and at Dudley in 1848. Also in 1848, the passing of the Public Health Act not only firmly underlined Chadwick’s foresight but ensured that the production of sanitary products was to remain the basis for Doulton fortunes for many years to come.

In 1854, The Builder magazine was able to state: ‘Messrs Doulton estimate that they manufacture one fifth of the pipe sewers made throughout the country and they manufacture at the rate of ten miles of sewer a week!’

From the 1880s until the late 1930s Doulton stoneware pipes were also exported all over the world.

The Doulton involvement in sanitary production spread rapidly beyond stoneware pipes, and by the 1870s the catalogues were filled with all manner of sinks, closets, lavatories, baths and other sanitary fittings. Water filters and other purification equipment also played an important and long-lasting role. These were made at Lambeth and the other factories initially, but soon spread to new works at Burslem, Paisley and elsewhere.

One of Henry Doulton’s reasons for buying a share in the Burslem factory of Pinder Bourne & Co was that Company’s established interests in sanitary and industrial production.The Paisley Works was established in 1888, primarily for the production of cast iron baths and other sanitary metalware.
The range of Doulton sanitary production was quite staggering and included both the basic wares required for hospital, prison and ship use as well as the splendidly opulent, such as those fitted in the Reform Club, Manchester.

In 1901, Doulton’s important contribution to sanitary science was acknowledged with the award of a Royal Warrant, a propitious start to their 20th century production.

In the opening decades of the 20th century they secured the largest and most prestigious sanitary contracts. Included among these were those for County Hall and the Savoy Hotel, London, the latter necessitating the production of 237 specially designed baths. Commissions for overseas work increased at this period, in particular in India, where they installed sanitary systems in a number of palaces and other official residences.

In the 1930s reorganisation led to the concentration of production at Stoke and Lambeth. The Paisley factory was sold in 1936, and in 1937 production at Nile Street ceased, having been moved to the newly acquired Whieldon Sanitary Potteries. This factory, still (until 1992) the headquarters of Doulton sanitaryware, has in turn expanded by further mergers, in 1945 with Arthur Winkle Ltd, and in 1968/9 with Johnson & Slater (of Queenborough, Kent).

In the meantime, stoneware production at Lambeth had ceased, and vitreous china had replaced earthenware at the other factories.

Finally, in 1974, Doulton Sanitaryware became a European company from its partnership with Keramag of Germany and Allia of France. Today, acrylic baths and other new technological developments have replaced the stoneware sewer pipes but these still maintain the tradition established in 1845 by Henry Doulton.


Milestones in the History of Doulton Bathrooms

1793 John Doulton, ancestor of the potting family is born in London. (Died 1873). He served his apprenticeship in potting at Dwight's Fulham Pottery in South West London.

1815 John Doulton invests his life savings of £100 to become a partner with Martha Jones who owned a pottery in Vauxhall Walk, Lambeth, London. John joined with John Watts and the new company of Jones, Watts, and Doulton commenced the manufacture of salt glazed domestic wares.

1820 Martha Jones retires from the firm.

1820 Henry Doulton born to John Doulton. He was one of eight children.

1826 Company trades as Doulton and Watts from new premises in Lambeth High Street. The new premises had the largest garden in the area other than that of the Archbishop of Canterbury's Lambeth Palace. This provided room for expansion - later to prove significant in the company's progress. The company manufactured salt glazed stoneware vessels, chiefly bottles for blacking, ink and beer.

1835 Henry Doulton, now 15 years of age, leaves school to join his father's firm.

1837 Henry Doulton had by now, grasped the skills of the potter's art and was producing 20 gallon chemical jars by hand. Henry developed considerable inventiveness and introduced steam power to the factory to drive the throwing wheels. This gave the company a ten year lead on any other pottery. By the late 1830's Henry had begun manufacturing architectural terracotta and garden ornaments.

1841 To celebrate his coming of age Henry Doulton produces, by hand, a 300 gallon stoneware transport jar described as the largest stoneware vessel in the world.

1842 Chadwick's report on the "Sanitary Conditions of the Labouring Population." Sanitary conditions throughout Britain are appalling. 50,000 die of cholera.

1845 Henry Doulton builds a new factory in Lambeth to manufacture salt glazed stoneware sewer pipes - the first of their kind in the world.

1847 Additional factory opened in St. Helens in Lancashire to meet the growing demand for improved sanitation. The Rowley Regis/Dudley and St. Helens factories produced 10 miles of sewer pipes per week supplying 20% of the sewers in the UK.

1848 Additional factory opened in Springfield, Rowley Regis, near Dudley, West Midlands. From the start the works specialised in sanitary stoneware, for which there was an increasing demand in the second half of the 19th century as municipalities and local authorities invested in sewage systems and piping fresh water. The Springfield works also made industrial stoneware and ceramics and architectural pieces and terracotta tiling. Famous buildings decorated with some of its wares include Harrods and the Russell Hotel in London. The company provided the dark red terracotta clay used in the construction of the Birmingham General Hospital (now the Birmingham Children's Hospital) in Steelhouse lane, Birmingham. The works were built on the Dudley No.2 Canal, which was the main route for the raw clay going into the works and the finished products going out to be transported all over the world. The clay came from the company's pits in nearby Saltwells Wood.

Doulton's Springfield Works, Rowley Regis, Dudley, West Midlands
Photos: Sources unknown but found with help from Christopher Evans  Date: 1940s

1850 Doulton opened a second stoneware works in the Black Country, on the bank of the Birmingham Canal in Smethwick. This remained in operation until 1913, when high transportation costs forced its closure. It re-opened briefly in the First World War but closed finally in 1919.

1854 John Watts retires and the company becomes known as Doulton and Company.

1859 Doulton manufacture their first stoneware ceramic sink.

1860 Blue Brick production started at the St Helen's factory.

1871 Henry Doulton had launched a studio at the Lambeth pottery, and offered work to designers and artists from a local art school. Their names included the Barlow family (Florence, Hannah, and Arthur), Frank Butler, Mark Marshall, Eliza Simmance, and George Tinworth.

1872 Blue Brick production started at the Rowley Regis factory.

1873 John Doulton senior died. By this time, the firm was an established leader in industrial ceramics, and was just entering the field of art pottery.

1876 John Duneau Doulton registered the company's first trademarks.

1877 Partnership formed with Pinder and Bourne, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, manufacturers of earthenware sanitaryware and tableware.

1879 Doulton & Co. Catalogue issued. front cover

Doulton & Co. Catalogue front cover

1882 Burslem, Nile Street, factory wholly owned by Henry Doulton.

1884 International Health Exhibition. The Doulton Company won no less than 21 gold, silver and bronze medals. Several of these were rescued, by the author of this blog)  in about 2011. They were originally on show in the Twyfords/Doulton reception area at the Alsager Factory and became surplus to requirements following refurbishment of the showcases. They are now in safe keeping at the Stoke-on-Trent City Archives. Several others were rescued from a rubbish skip during a previous refurbishment and they too are now in safe hands at the archive service. (

1884 The company landed a medal for its gorgeous Art Pottery in 1884. Here it is - front and back. Interestingly, look at inscription for the name of the Sanitary Institute that made the award. It was the "Exhibition of Sanitary Apparatus and Appliances". Mr. Doulton, always looking for new business, must have had some art pottery on display alongside his loos and the organisers must have been so impressed with the art pottery that they awarded a "Special Mark of Merit".

1885 Henry Doulton receives the Albert Medal from the Royal Society of Arts, which (apart from his Knighthood) he regarded as "the crowning glory of his whole career." 

1887 Queen Victoria confers Knighthood on Henry Doulton. The first ever English Potter to receive such an accolade.

1888 Factory in Paisley, Scotland established to produce cast iron baths and sanitary metalware.

1890 Doulton Lambeth Combination WC. This toilet came into the Twyford archive when the two companies merged in 1989. It remained on show in the Twyford's museum display until about 2010 when it went into store. Then in 2015 it was donated by the company to The Black Country Museum, near to the Doulton Dudley factory in the UK's West Midlands.

1894 First fireclay production starts in Dudley factory.


Doulton Sinks advert 1898

1889 The Lambeth establishment employed c.2000 people and there were another 2000 employees in other parts of the Doulton empire.

1891 Doulton and Watts, encaustic tile makers, filter makers and crucible makers, 28 High St, Lambeth. Doulton and Co, Albert Embankment.

1893 - 1897  A new pipe works was built at Boundary Street, St, Helens, equipped with the latest clay-mills, extrusion presses and larger kilns.

1896 A report from W. Beattie Scott, H. M. Inspector of Mines for the South Stafford District, shows that Doulton & Co. owned the Yew Tree Hill Colliery in Netherton, where coal, and fireclay were extracted for use in their Dudley factory.

1897 Death of Sir Henry Doulton.

1901 Royal Warrant awarded by King Edward VII for Doulton's contribution to sanitary science and permission given to call the company "Royal Doulton"

1908 to 1910 Alfred Johnson, the pioneer of slip casting sanitaryware, establishes the factory at Queenborough on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent. Johnson already had a factory in Wesel in the industrial belt of North Dusseldorf in Germany. But in the German political climate prior to 1914 Johnson decided that he should set up a factory in Britain. His attention fell to Queenborough which was, at the time, a bustling port. The land was available and the workforce was available and the factory was established, and Alfred Johnson and Sons Ltd. formed. (The managing director of the Stoke-on-Trent firm, Johnson Bros (Hanley) Ltd., was Stanley Johnson, a relative of Alfred.) Product was marketed under the 'Pyramid' brand and was taken by barge to the London docks for both the overseas and home markets. A considerable proportion was produced for the Government and Public Works Departments.

Queenborough factory. Bottle ovens and railway wagons 1930

1909 31st March Construction began in Belfast of the RMS Titanic. The ship was launched on 31 May 1911 but it sank on its maiden voyage on 15 April 1912. Neil Egginton, of Stoke-on-Trent, wrote in October 2018 "In first class it was the Doulton 3019A WCs made in Lambeth, in second and third class they were Shanks Pacific WCs made in Barrhead Scotland."

A Shanks 'Pacific' pan made in Barrhead, Scotland, on the sea bed
Image courtesy Neil Egginton, October 2018

Doulton's washbasin recovered from the Titanic wreck site.
Image courtesy Neil Egginton, October 2018

1910 to 1912 Rushenden site was added.

1920 Royal Doulton Sanitaryware logo.

1925 Doulton opens its Stoneware Pipe Works in Erith, Kent.

Doulton Erith pipe works Kent 1931
Photo: Source unknown but found with help from Christopher Evans

1928 Photo - Doulton Stoneware Pipe Works, Erith, Kent

1932 Photo Doulton Stoneware Pipe Works, Erith, Kent 1932. Image courtesy of 'Britain From Above.'  The Doulton factory is on the right. 

1935 Johnson and Slater (Stoke) Ltd. was formed by the merger of Alfred Johnson and Sons Ltd of Queenborough, and John Slater (Stoke) Ltd, Berryhill, Stoke-on-Trent.

1936 Paisley factory closes.


1937 Wheildon Sanitary Potteries, Stoke, acquired from Winkle and Wood to become Doulton Sanitary Potteries head office and main factory. All sanitary ware manufacture transferred from Burslem and from Lambeth to Stoke.

Whieldon Sanitary Potteries Ltd., Colonial Pottery,
Mount Pleasant, Stoke
Photo: courtesy  Date: 1933
Ref: EPW042664

Whieldon Sanitary Potteries Ltd., Colonial Pottery,
Mount Pleasant, Stoke
Photo: courtesy  Date: 1933

1939 New headquarters open in London. Doulton House. Not far from the original Lambeth Factory.

Doulton House 1939, demolished 1979
Royal Doulton Potteries, Albert Embankment, Lambeth, London
Art Deco headquarters designed by T P Bennett
Embankment entrance frieze depicting 'Pottery Through the Ages' by Gilbert Bayes
rescued and now stored in The Victoria &Albert Museum, London

1946 Extent of the Doulton undertaking. Factories shown in a promotional booklet for new staff.

Thanks to Christopher Evans for image

1950s The Queenborough factory was rebuilt to enable the new production methods.

1953 Doulton House, Lambeth, London. The entrance hall.

The entrance hall at Doulton's Lambeth House
Photo: Source unknown  Date: 1953

1956 The Lambeth factory finally closes due to new clean air regulations that prevented the production of salt-glaze in the urban environment. Following closure, all work was transferred to The Potteries. The firm's headquarters remained there until 1971.

1959 Trent and Mersey canal, Stoke, with the Whieldon Road, Doulton factory (now demolished)

Trent and Mersey canal Stoke with Whieldon Road, Doulton factory
Photo: Source unknown  Date: 1959

1960 Doulton & Co. introduced English Translucent China, a medium it pioneered and from which the costly ingredient of calcined bone had been eliminated. Through this new product, which became known as Royal Doulton Fine China, the company was able to offer some of the qualities associated with fine bone china at a modest cost to consumers.

1968 The year saw the first series of acquisitions by Doulton & Co. It first purchased Minton China, of Stoke-on-Trent. Mintons was founded by Thomas Minton in 1793. Minton was a huge name in the industry during the middle of the 19th century and the company's innovations included the acid gold decorating process, the majolica-type body, the pâte-sur-pâte relief decoration technique, encaustic tiles, and Parian statuary.

In the same year, Doulton acquired Dunn Bennett, a company founded in 1876 when Thomas Wood-Bennett joined his father-in-law William Dunn to begin potting, concentrating on hotelware.

In 1969, Webb Corbett and Beswick became part of the Royal Doulton group. Webb Corbett was founded in 1897 to make English full-lead crystal; Beswick traced its history to 1890, when James Wright Beswick and his son began producing both table and ornamental ware. The hand-cut crystal of Webb Corbett later would be rebranded under the Royal Doulton name.

1969 Doulton and Co Ltd. acquires Johnson and Slater (Stoke) Ltd. with its vitreous china factories in Queenborough, Isle of Sheppey, Kent, and a fireclay factory at Berryhill, Bucknall, Stoke-on-Trent. Johnson, originally from Wessell in Germany, was a pioneer of slip casting sanitaryware.

1971 Queenborough factory features in comedy film "Carry On At Your Convenience."

1972 Doulton and Company acquired by S Pearson & Son Ltd. of the Pearson Group.

1973 Doulton Sanitaryware Limited comes into being. A separate company within the group.

1974 P&S Plastics Cirencester Ltd acquired by Doulton. P&S were the pioneers of acrylic bath manufacturing.

1974 Consortium entered into with Lafarge Cement Holding Company. Allia Doulton is born.

1975 Lafarge Coppee acquires the controlling interest in Allia.

1978 Doulton House, London, demolished. The building was sold by Doulton in the early 1970s The Bayes freeze on the front of the building was fortunately saved after a campaign by Paul Atterbury, Doulton's then historical adviser. The freeze is now stored in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

1979 Doulton Springfield works at Rowley Regis near Dudley, West Midlands closes and an industrial estate now occupies the site.

1983 La Farge acquired 100% shares of the company and renames the sanitaryware division "ALLIA (UK) LTD" The sanitaryware company now consists of three manufacturing units - Queenborough in Kent, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, and the Whieldon Road Factory in Stoke-on-Trent.

1983 Launch of Sovereign Suite. Here is a scan from the brochure of the time showing the designer Geoff Kelsall.

Royal Doulton/Allia Sovereign Suite
Brochure scan courtesy of  Neil Egginton,  October 2018
Brochure scan courtesy of  Neil Egginton,  October 2018
Royal Doulton/Allia Sovereign Suite 1983
Image courtesy of Neil Egginton, October 2018

Royal Doulton/Allia Sovereign Suite 1983
Image courtesy of Neil Egginton, October 2018
The Interbuild exhibition was in November/December 1983 and Doulton used the opportunity to launch its new colour Ivory Silk - a matt/satin finish colour. The Countess suite was also launched in 1983.

1983 Doulton exhibits at Interbuild'83 - the building exhibition at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, UK.

Doulton Interbuild'83 exhibition ticket
Image courtesy of  Neil Egginton,  October 2018

Image courtesy of  Neil Egginton,  October 2018

1983 Colour Miniatures

Royal Doulton/Allia mini WCs
in the strong sanitaryware colours of mid 1980s
Image courtesy of  Neil Egginton,  October 2018

1985 The Allia/Toto Alliance (Toto of Japan).

1987 Doulton Sanitaryware (Allia UK) acquired by Stelrad Group, part of the Metal Box Group. Name changed to Stelrad Bathroom Products Ltd., trading as Stelrad Doulton with the permission of the Royal Doulton company.

1989 Start of massive investment at Queenborough factory in new mechanised casting.

1989 "A rare sight, a lady caster at Allia Doultons plant in Kent, beam casting Ashton WCs." writes Neil Egginton, October 2018.

Lady caster at Allia Doultons plant in Kent
beam casting Ashton WCs.
Photo courtesy Neil Egginton October 2018

1989 MB Group acquire Caradon. Caradon Bathrooms formed with the Doulton and Twyford brand names. £12 million investment  (MB Group was originally established as Allied Tin Box in 1921 and renamed Metal Box & Printing Industries in 1922. By 1967 it was producing 77% of the metal cans in the United Kingdom. It underwent further name changes to MB Group in 1988 and to MB-Caradon in 1989.  It went on to become Caradon in 1993 and Novar in 2001.)

1990 Manufacturing capacity at the Queenborough factory doubled.

1990 Name changed to Doulton Bathroom Products.

1991 Acrylic Baths production concentrated at the Cardiff site. Cirencester site closes.

1991 21 September  The Stelrad Doulton Whieldon Road Sanitaryware Factory closes. Most of the staff were moved from Whieldon Road to Twyfords Alsager Factory.

Article courtesy of The Evening Sentinel

1992 18th May ... largest fire in Kent since the war destroys most of the Queenborough factory warehouse, some firing capacity and some spraying and modelling facilities. Due too the determination if the workforce production was re-established within 24 hours. 192 people employed (include 41 staff).

1992 MB Caradon invested £13 million in a new National Distribution Centre and new head office, showroom and administrative block on the Alsager site, which became the largest single unit devoted to vitreous china production and distribution in Europe.  (The site at Alsager now covered 70 acres.)

1993 MB Caradon becomes simply Caradon. (In 2001, Caradon became Novar).

1998 Caradon Plumbing Solutions launched as new trading company for the ten plumbing brands of the group.

2000 Royal Doulton Bathrooms brand launched for retail bathroom showrooms.

2000 November  Caradon Plumbing Solutions purchased by HSBC Private Equity

2001 January HSBC / Montagu Private Equity sold Twyford Bathrooms and Royal Doulton Bathrooms to the SANITEC Corporation of Helsinki, Finland.  Sanitec was Europe’s largest producer of Ceramic sanitaryware in Europe.  Caradon name was dropped.  Twyford Bathrooms was re-established with the Twyford, Doulton and Royal Doulton brands of bathroom products

2001 July  Sanitec acquired by BC Partners. A privately owned company

2001 Winter The Queenborough factory produces over 1 million items of sanitaryware and employes 190 people, making it one of the biggest employers on the Isle of Sheppey (Source: Company magazine called Suite Talk)

2003 Doulton's Queenborough factory closed after 94 years continuous production.

Queenborough factory at closure April 2003
Queenborough factory at closure April 2003

Queenborough factory at closure April 2003

Queenborough factory at closure April 2003

2005 April  Sanitec sold by BC Partners and acquired by EQT Private Equity

2006  Royal Doulton Bathrooms brand withdrawn. Royalties for the use of the name paid to Royal Doulton Ltd come to a halt.

The Royal Doulton brand of bathrooms comes to an end, over 160 years after Henry Doulton the importance of the sanitary revolution.

End of an Era - Royal Doulton Bathrooms come to an end 2006


2013  Doulton gentleman's urinal opens as a Coffee Shop. Located in the heart of Fitzrovia in London, England, and 5 minutes walk from Oxford Street, this former Victorian toilet has been lovingly transformed into one of London’s top speciality coffee & brunch cafes. Built around 1890 and mothballed in the 1960’s, the Attendant was dormant for more than fifty years. After two-years’ of planning and restoration, the original Doulton & Co porcelain urinals have become an inspired line with green seating to match the original Victorian floor tiles.