Bendigo biscuit barrel
Bendigo biscuit barrel

George Guthrie, the founder of the Bendigo pottery, began his first pottery business, Camperdown Pottery, in Sydney in 1851. His most successful product was ginger beer bottles. Following a downturn in the market, Guthrie moved to Melbourne and then to Sandhurst (later called Bendigo) on the Victorian goldfields, where a superior white clay had been discovered.

In 1857 he established a pottery at Sandhurst. The Pottery made a large range of wares but, due to a small local population and poor transport to the cities, it closed in 1861. When the railway line reached the area in 1863, Guthrie opened another pottery at Epsom, a suburb of Sandhurst near the line.

By 1873, the Bendigo pottery had 40 employees and by 1891 over 1,000. Initially, the Bendigo Pottery specialised in items like jars, chimney tops and flower pots but majolica was added in 1979 and Bristol wares a little later. Dark brown “Langley Ware” was introduced in 1914 and an Art Deco range, called “Waverly Ware” in the1930s. Majolica was discontinued at about this time.

"Bradman" character jug
“Bradman” character jug

The main factory was destroyed by fire in 1941. However, it was rebuilt to continue to produce the brown colonial stoneware pottery for which it is famous. After the Second World War, Langley Ware and Waverley Ware were discontinued and the Pottery was producing only pipes, tiles, fire bricks and a limited range of Bristol Ware.

In the late 1960s, a range of kitchen pottery, such as jars, bread crocks and casseroles, called “Epsom Ware” was developed and proved very popular. Production of this range ceased in 1987 when Alex Gill, the master potter responsible for it, retired.

A range of limited edition Toby jugs was produced between 1973 and 1977.

In recent years, Bendigo Pottery has commenced producing a Heritage Homeware range, has reintroduced the Waverley range and developed a new Bendigo Blue range.

 

Bendigo pottery available now