Belleek Pottery Celebrate 160 Years with 160 Moments and Memories
Published June 13, 2017
On Friday 9th June 2017, Belleek Pottery Celebrated its 160th anniversary with the launch of ONE SIXTY – A collection of Moments and Memories in Belleek Pottery's history.
Attended by guests from the business and tourism sectors, the event was hosted by The Belleek Pottery Directors.
John Maguire, Managing Director of Belleek Pottery welcomed guests in the Collectors Room, where he spoke of the rich history of Belleek.
“In 1857, as Ireland was emerging from the great famine, people were looking for ways to survive. John Caldwell Bloomfield a local landlord identified an opportunity to create pottery from the raw materials available on his estate, creating employment and a sustainable community.
Fast forward 160 years and today we have a thriving business that crosses two key sectors, manufacturing and tourism, continuing to deliver Bloomfield’s vision.
The journey to get to this 160th year has been filled with countless successes including the acquisitions of Galway Crystal and Aynsley as well as the development of four Belleek Living Stores which are located across Northern Ireland.
The pottery has over the decades faced economic and political turbulence too but has remained a stalwart in the business landscape of Fermanagh”.
“Welcoming millions of visitors over the years”, John continued “the pottery continues to be an important feature on many tour operator programmes and our export activity spans the five continents.
Over the years we have welcomed celebrities, royalty, religious leaders and prominent politicians. Belleek China can be found in the most prestigious houses of Ireland, UK, mainland Europe, China, Australia and in our strongest export market, America.
With its growing popularity, the Pottery has developed a thriving Collectors Society which spans the globe. The keenest of our collectors is in possession of 7500 pieces of Belleek China.
This year has been quite a year so far. Exports sales are looking favourable as are visitor numbers.
Overlooking the bridge that separates us from the Donegal we of course have concerns regarding BREXIT however we cannot let this hinder how we do business now, as we cannot predict what the future will bring.
And so to the present day and our 160th year. To date we have had some really great events. We’ve launched the 160th Archive Collection. We have been focussed on innovation and have commissioned award winning designer Wendy Ward to develop a range of contemporary Belleek Living products.
We have launched The Bloomfield Trail for junior visitors as the first of 2 legacy projects for 2017. We have welcomed the 160th Visitor and 160th Tour of 2017 and have enjoyed an hour-long feature on Your Place and Mine as well as a feature on RTE’s Nationwide.
We estimate that over 16 decades Belleek Pottery has been responsible for employing thousands of people over the years. We believe we have produced millions of pieces of pottery since 1857 new selling product worldwide.
We have a great story to tell and are really delighted to be celebrating our 160th anniversary.
I mentioned earlier The Archive Collection which is a product celebration for the anniversary, The Bloomfield Trail which is an adaptation of our current visitor tour, developed for younger visitors. Our final legacy project is our ONE SIXTY Exhibition which will be a permanent installation in our visitor centre.
ONE SIXTY - A Collection of Moments and Memories tells the story of Belleek Pottery over 16 decades. The story is told through photographs and we are delighted with the response we received from people across the community who contributed so many images to make this exhibition possible.
We estimate 500 photos have been sourced through our own archives and those given by local people. In particular, Joe O’Loughlin and John Cunningham have been exceptionally generous with their time, knowledge and supply of images.
It has been quite a task to decide on the 160 to be placed on the wall, so we hope we have done the Belleek Story the justice it deserves.
ONE SIXTY showcases the people, scenery and industrial heritage of the Pottery. We have gathered photos showing the many, many faces that have worked in the pottery over the years, including an early 1900’s staff photo.
Our aim with ONE SIXTY is to keep this as a permanent exhibition feature adding to the visitor experience. However, we want this exhibition to continue to evolve and change so will welcome any additional images people discover so that by the time we get to 2027, our collection will have morphed into a completely different visual experience.
Of course the Belleek Pottery story continues to live on through the people who work here, our customers and visitors for without them we would not be here to celebrate this special anniversary.
For more information on the Belleek ONE SIXTY EXHIBITION please contact Teresa O’Loughlin at firstname.lastname@example.org/07962409131
Posted by Tourism NI
Produced by Tourism NI