Leach Standard Ware was the pottery’s range of domestic table ware made over several decades - from 1937 until after Bernard Leach’s death in 1979.
From the 1920s Bernard Leach was interested and preoccupied with the idea of 'standard' referring in 'A Potter's Outlook' ( Leach 1928 ) to 'a classic standard of pottery', 'the mean standardised ware of industry' and 'eastern classic standards' and dedicating a chapter in 'A Potter's Book' to the idea: 'Towards a standard'. His perspective was not just the production of tableware to supply household articles for both enjoyment and use at as reasonable a price as possible, but to move towards working as a group and engaging as part of of a wider community.
Bernard's son David Leach who trained at North Staffordshire Technical College, became manager at the Pottery in 1937. He developed a new stoneware body to create a range of table ware. Bernard himself was involved from the beginning, creating, providing inspiration and drawing the shapes, which David then made into prototypes. These were discussed and when final forms agreed, the dimensions, weight and shape of each pot were recorded as a guide for future reference.
Bernard could be said to be the contemplative and artistic heart of Standard Ware then David was its practical hands and the driver of change at the pottery. He had an active role at the late 1930’s pottery through his modernization of facilities, processes, labour through apprenticeships and instigating a radical overhaul of the kiln that involved converting it from wood to oil.
Manufacture of the Standard Ware was interrupted by the War but during this time designs were developed and it can be said that post war was a perfect economic climate for this type of ware. The pottery's Standard Ware catalogue was first issued in 1946 and production of it continued until Bernard’s death in 1979. Three basic glazes were used for the ware: Celadon, Tenmoku and oatmeal with overpainting in brown and blue. The stoneware range was often decorated with willow trees and includes what became popularly known as the ‘Z bowl’. Between 1937 and 1955 porcelain was included in the standard ware range as a special order item and typically glazed in celadon and decorated with the oak leaf motif.
Between seven to twelve staff were involved making around 18,000 Standard Ware pieces per year and there was always a nucleus of seven or eight who were drawn from the locality and trained in the workshop. Michael Cardew was an early student, William Marshall an apprentice, Katherine Pleydell - Bouverie became an apprentice in 1924 and Warren MacKenzie from the USA worked at the pottery between 1949 – 52.
In 2008 a contemporary version of the Standard Ware was created for the re - opening of the pottery and has continued to develop into the range we currently produce and sell.