16th Air Assault Brigade crestWay back in October 2015 Banks Pottery were honoured to be approached by the 16th Air Assault Brigade of the British Army with a view to produce a new set of mess crockery.  The 16th Air Assault Brigade is an elite unit of airborne troops with roots going back to the famous Parachute Regiment and their iconic ‘Red Berets’.

We began by suggesting different types of white crockery on which to apply the brigade crest and its merits. We don’t expect military types to have a great knowledge of crockery so guidance is provided. We start by asking what the intended use of the crockery is; whether it’s for everyday or for ceremonial events.

The crockery that the Brigade preferred was a fine china ware with a gold rim: Jubilee.

Whilst this was going on The Brigade wanted us to make up an example of the finished article so that they could get some feedback from the ‘Top Brass”, and to ascertain exactly how much ware would be needed. This is, of course totally possible (we do have to charge our standard set-up fee when making up an actual example of the finished product here: bear in mind that if no changes take place after the proof piece the set-up fee is taken care of in the final bill). We did this and dispatched a plate down to Colchester for feedback.

In time the proof piece was approved as the design to use - the famous Pegasus badge at the top of the plate centrally positioned between the gold rim and the ‘shoulder’ of the plate - the bottom of the rim. At this time the Brigade provided us with production numbers and plate sizes to use. However, once we had an idea of the sizes of crockery required this threw up a further problem; the jubilee range did not have the correct sizes that were required, so we looked for some alternative manufacturers that would enable us to provide the correct sizes.

We settled on Dudson Fine China ‘Chamonix’ as the base ware - made in England!

We consulted the guru of all china decoration techniques, George Jackson, in the decision-making process. We felt honoured to be given this prestigious job for a most famous part of British military history so wanted to do the best job that we could do and produce some really stunning ware. George had a lot of experience using transfer prints and gold edging. It’s a tricky job as balancing kiln temperatures is vital to enable the gold to go on uniformly and to get the print transfer to bind sufficiently with the glaze to make the badge/logo a fully permanent part of the crockery. Remember real gold is used here and it is hand applied by skilled craftspeople in the heart of the Potteries!

We did a further test piece on the Dudson ware and sent this down to the guys in Colchester to check that the badge was correct. It was quite a small badge and we were worried that some of the detail was getting a bit lost as it was so small on the smaller pieces, such as saucers. Also, that they were ok with using the Dudson ware, which they were.

So, time had moved on by now and we were in October 2016. We know that the chaps were often out jumping out of planes and driving tanks so ceramics can take a back seat for a few weeks…it’s never a problem, we move at our customer’s pace!

Custom printed crockery for 16th Air Assault RegimentThe final go ahead was given and numbers confirmed. We arranged for prints to be made up and placed our order with Dudson for the ware. Snag; Dudson needed to produce some further Chamonix before they could deliver to George Jackson’s works in Stoke on Trent. Sadly, a deadline was missed for an important Regimental dinner that we had hoped to hit. The Brigade was very understanding that these things happen. Production of the Chamonix ware was scheduled for December 2016, and subsequently delivered to George. To produce 660 pieces of badged gold rimmed china is quite a time-consuming process so George and his team set to the task (at a very busy time for the kilns) and we took delivery in January 2017 and dispatched to the barracks in Colchester.

Feedback from the CO has been excellent, and everyone was very happy with the outcome. It took some

It took some time in the end to get everything right but sometimes taking the extra time and care is the best course of action. We never want to expend time, expense and energy doing tricky custom ware that is then rejected by our clients because it does not come up to their expectations.