From toilets to teapots and tiles to Toby jugs; Sharpe’s Pottery Museum has them all

During the early sixteenth century the rich clay deposits of South Derbyshire attracted many entrepreneurs. They included, amongst many others, ‘farm boy to gentleman potter’ Thomas Sharpe, rich businessman T. G. Green, and the creative and artistic partnership of Henry Tooth and William Ault at Bretby Art Pottery.

The varied collections include an intriguing array of Sharpe’s world famous toilets, rare examples from the Bretby Art Pottery and the popular and well known T.G. Green’s blue and cream striped Cornishware.

Sharpe’s Pottery has one of the most diverse range of toilets in the country. They include the plain and simple ‘Asiatic Squatting Pan,’ the artistically decorated Victoria toilet and the world famous invention of the ‘Wash-Down’ water closet by family member Edmund Sharpe.

Sharpe’s Pottery displays also include stone bottles, Toby jugs, Mocha ware and… sewer pipes!

Did you know?

The high content of alumina (aluminium oxide) made local clay very suitable for salt glazing, giving an almost indestructible finish to sewer pipes.

The sewer pipes were produced in Swadlincote around 1900 and are still in use today, globally, and in the Houses of Parliament. Under the ground, out of view and more than 100 years later, we still rely on those ceramic pipes.

Did you know?

Cornishware pots were first made in Church Gresley and not Cornwall as the name suggests.

Sharpe’s Pottery Museum has a vintage collection to view and enjoy


The Bretby Art Pottery founded in 1882 by Henry Tooth and William Ault produced highly decorative pottery such as Art Nouveau vases and Jardiniere planters and other examples from the creative and artistic skills of South Derbyshire potters.


T. G. Greens was founded in 1864 at Church Gresley, and still makes pottery in China. Many families continue to buy the distinctive blue and cream striped Cornishware pots.


The origins of Mason Cash can be traced back to a pottery already operating at Church Gresley around 1800.

Mason Cash ceramic items were generally made from ‘white and cane’ glazed earthenware sometimes known as ‘yellow ware’ due to the colour of the local clay.

Mason Cash had been producing mixing bowls during the 1800s, but in 1901 they designed and manufactured the very first iconic Mason Cash mixing bowl. The design of the Mason Cash mixing bowl has hardly changed in over 100 years and can be recognised by its original and distinctive pattern on the outside of the bowl.

You might find one in your cupboard, or your parents, or even your grandparents.


Moira pottery works was founded in 1922, The pottery works was situated approximately 5 mi (8 km) from Burton on Trent Staffordshire. The village of Moira is just over the border in Leicestershire.

The pottery was known for its functional pots for marmalade and inexpensive pitchers and other kitchen wares.

The plant was closed by the National Coal Board and its buildings demolished in 1972 under compulsory purchase because the land it stood on was over a coal reserve. After the open pit coal seam was exhausted the land was reclaimed and has now been planted as part of the National Forest.

Transfer prints were often used reproducing unique turn-of-the-century woodcuts.

The company’s “Hillstonia” ware was intended for forcing bulbs and containing plants. Moira pottery was often marked with an oval stamp on the unglazed base of the pot.