Possil or Saracen pottery has a complicated history. Under the brand name “Nautilus”, they produced some of the finest porcelain ever produced in Britain, let alone Scotland.
A partnership of Bayley, Murray and Joseph Brammer founded a four-kiln pottery in 1875 known as Saracen pottery. This first period was to last for 21 years and wares were exhibited at the Glasgow Exhibition of 1888, when they switched production to salt-glazed stoneware and changed name to Possil Pottery. It closed in 1896.
Simultaneously, in 1894, a successful China wholesaler rented part of a stoneware pottery. Despite their name, MacDougall & Sons were actually brothers. They purchased the closed Possil pottery works in 1896 and began producing porcelain wares under a trading name of “Nautilus Porcelain”. Their porcelain products were as fine as Worcester or Belleek.
The death of one brother in 1910 may have been responsible for the pottery’s closure in 1911 and it stood vacant until 1916, when it was bought by the brewers firm Tennents.
Tennents looked to secure stoneware during wartime scarcities and produced such wares until the second world war made materials and manpower too scarce to continue the works and it was sold to an iron works in 1942.
Initially, under Saracen, the pottery produced coloured bodies of glazes, mostly teapots and pitchers, with some other domestic household wares including Rockingham, cane and black basalt, jet and mazarin wares. Course white ware was also made but never advertised.
During MacDougall & Sons, some of the finest porcelain ever to be crafted in Scotland was produced under the name “Nautilus”.
Exquisite figurines, dessert wares, tea sets, ornamental wares in fine hand-painted eggshell porcelain. The decoration has strong similarities to Limoges and the eggshell porcelain being almost identical to that produced by Belleek.
Woven baskets were made but are usually unmarked.
Earthenware was also produced, generally marked Possil Pottery and hand-painted or transfer-printed. Crested China of an enormous variety.
During the Tennents period, initially beer bottles for the Cuban export market was the priority, given the wartime scarcity of stoneware.
Due to economic difficulties, stoneware foot warmers, acid and varnish bottles, whisky jars, jam pots, cream jars and electrical insulators were produced and in 1936, a range of art wares in unglazed white stoneware was launched under “Possil Ware” for retail in London craft stores, which is extremely rare. Brown catering ware was also made, but is not known.
Articles in SPHR
Articles in Bulletin (Members only)
Typical Backstamps & Marks
B.M. & B (Impressed or marked), Saracen Pottery, Nauitlus Pottery, Possil Pottery Co, Possil Pottery, Possil Ware, Nautilus (painted)
Boston is the only one known so far
Other Publications & Links
“No Scottish pottery has had a more varied history than this – its name was changed as well as its products. Starting life in a humble way as a maker of coloured wares, it was elevated to making some of the finest porcelain ever made in Britain and then sank to being a manufacturer of beer bottles” Henry E Kelly, “Scottish Ceramics”