Afternoon tea, full-English breakfast, traditional roast dinners. All of these culinary delights are part of our British heritage but without excellent quality crockery they wouldn’t be the mainstays they are.

In a time when many other industries are moving manufacturing away from the UK to cut production costs, the British pottery industry is staying put and continues to be proud of its products that are ‘Made in Britain.’

For more than 40 years now we have been supplying British-made crockery to restaurants, hotels and a wide variety of other catering establishments and we’re proud to stock many of the UK’s leading brands, including Churchill, Porcelite, Dudson and Simply.

We recently had the chance to visit Churchill’s manufacturing plant in the home of pottery, Stoke-on-Trent, where we watched the production process of maple cups and the decoration process of new ‘stonecast’ ware. Here’s a brief insight into what it takes to produce one of Churchill’s popular ‘maple cups.’

The clay for each maple cup was measured automatically and then placed in the maple cup mould. A robot moulder forms the shape in the mould, whilst more clay is injected into a mould for the handle. The top of the cup is rounded off with a simple wet sponge, and removed for the mould. With great skill and precision, the handle is placed onto the cup by hand – watch the process in action over on Google+

The cup is then dried to remove moisture, before being dipped in a liquid glaze. Then, it’s on to the kilns when the firing process begins. The cup will travel along the conveyor for 6 hours until fired.

Churchill Kilns firing cups Fired Churchill mugs

(Notice how much the cup shrinks in firing!)

Finally, the cup is tested for flaws, cracks and imperfections before being shipped and packed. The packer is looking for a perfect pitch when they hit the cup with a small metal bar – the cups that pass the test all ring in the exact same pitch!

Decorating 'Stonecast'

First a blue wash is applied on a turntable with a sponge, then the brown edge is carefully applied again with a sponge. The speckled effect is then applied via a flicked brush! Simple yet very effective!

Stonecast Blue Wash Stonecast Edging

All in all, it was great to see the processes involved and see a modern British factory producing world-class products that are shipped globally.

We were also interested to hear the results of Churchill’s recent survey of more than 500 professional catering establishments, which confirmed that durability is the most important factor for foodservice businesses when choosing crockery, ahead of price and design.

Churchill explained: “The more durable your dinnerware, the longer it will last and the less money it will cost you. It will also help you spend more time focussing on your own business as opposed to worrying about dinnerware requirements.”

Churchill’s advice is to choose plates that offer superior body strength and show resistance to edge chipping, thermal shock, chemical attack and scratching. What’s more, choice of plates or tableware should be based on usage; the more meals you serve, the more wear and tear your dinnerware will inevitably experience.

Read more about choosing the right dinnerware for your business and browse or extensive range of catering grade tableware online.