Denby China – A Brief History

Denby is a true British success story. Since their inception in the early 1800s, they have grown into one of the most well respected china and stoneware brands in the world. In their over 200 years of business, Denby has constantly evolved, moving from creating classically beautiful pottery to high-quality cast iron pans and kitchenware and, most recently, a stunning collection of dinnerware created with fashion brand Monsoon. Denby has a rich history, born from hard work and determination; a testament to the brand’s quality and reputation.


In 1806, local man William Bourne discovered a seam of fine quality clay in the area of Denby in Derbyshire. This clay was located near to a coalmine and the area had a good supply of running water. The area also had good links to road and rail networks, and there was access to a skilled workforce nearby. Thus, the Denby factory was born. Production began in 1809, with William Bourne’s son, Joseph at the helm.

At first, Denby specialised in making salt glazed pottery bottles. The salt glazing process was achieved by throwing salt into the kiln when it’s at its hottest temperature. This is what gave the bottles Denby’s signature glossy surface.


Denby pottery quickly built an international reputation. Their high quality and beautifully made products made them world renowned. Denby bottles were used the world over to hold toiletries, ink, medicine and even beer. However, by the late 1800s, the cost of glass bottles reduced, and they began to replace pottery bottles for holding liquids. This led to the Denby factory diversifying, beginning to make a variety of kitchenware like teapots, jugs, pots and dishes. They also began to create a number of different coloured glazes that would later become the Denby trademark.


By the 1920s, Denby kitchenware could be found in homes all over the UK. Alongside their range of kitchen and dinnerware, Denby began to produce an increasing number of decorative items, like vases and bowls. They became a popular addition to many middle class homes. Denby also began to introduce more vibrant colours into its range. These included Cottage Blue and Homestead Brown. The Denby colours proved to be extremely popular, but Denby constantly reinvented the range to make sure it was always fresh and new.

Changing Lifestyles

By the 1970s, lifestyles had become more relaxed, and Denby’s pottery and kitchenware ranges reflected this. They began to create pottery that could go from oven to table. This multi-purpose cookware worked within the parameters of the more casual modern lifestyle. During this time, Denby also continued to expand its range of colours. The 1980s saw Denby Imperial Blue and Regency Green dinnerware grace many tables around the UK; styles that are still popular to this day.

The Present and Future

Denby has constantly been at the forefront of quality in pottery, glassware and cookware. Recent years have seen them produce numerous new ranges, including collaborations with Chef James Martin and fashion brand Monsoon. Into the future, there’s no doubt that Denby will continue to build on their tradition of durability and fine craftsmanship.

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