WPA news sheet No.1, printed in black and white on both sides of an A4 sheet, was launched in February 1993, stating:

`The Westcountry Potters Association was formally launched at an Open Meeting at the East Devon College, Tiverton, on January 30th. 68 potters were present and 55 `signed on’ on the day! A splendid beginning. It is now up to us all to maintain the momentum. ‘

… the audience who included John Leach, debated the meeting’s agenda.

On Saturday 27th February, John Pollex gave a slideshow and demonstration to WPA Members at East Devon College. Admission was £2 for Members and £5 for non members.

From April 1993 came the revised title of `Newsletter’ for WPA news to Members. Our second Newsletter ran to 3 sheets of A4. An editorial team worked on these early newsletters, namely Doreen Gardner, Joanne Richards, Heather Strong and her husband Pete. We had 76 members by this time and it was decided that we needed a logo by which we could be recognised to use on the Newsletter, stationery and membership cards.

The original Steering Committee (profiled in Newsletter No. 3) included Chairman Michael Gaitskell, Vice Chair Patrick Jennings, Secretary Doreen Gardner, Treasurer Eileen Jones, Exhibitions Officer Martin Pettinger, Minutes Secretary Tony Smither, Membership Secretary Frank Jones, Newsletter Editor John Jeffs, Assistant Newsletter Editor Joanne Richards and Activities Officer Elizabeth Smith. These became the Committee. As there were no other nominations, there was no need to have an election.

Tim Andrews took over as Exhibitions Officer from Martin Pettinger

The Westcountry Potters Association was formally constituted on the 15th May 1993 at the Inaugural General Meeting at East Devon College, with guest speaker Roger Cockram

5th June: workshop visit to Jennie Hale

26th June: Stephen Brayne gave a talk on photographing ceramics

19th June: John Pollex gave a second WPA demonstration, this time at Pool School near Redruth, at the request of Cornish Potters who had not been able to get to his February day at Tiverton.

13th August: visit to Brannams Pottery at Barnstaple (now Petroc)

By October 1993, the newsletter moved to being produced bi-monthly and featured a new header based on Novarese typeface, being a contemporary sans serif typeface. This had a calligraphic feel which seemed appropriate for a craft association. It is a hybrid between sans serif and serif. It is unusual because it was designed with upright capitals and italic lower case so has not been italicised. The logo is the flaming kiln with Westcountry Potters Association ranged left and set down the right side, not just the kiln. Both the header and logo were designed by Doreen Gardner.

11th September: visit to Michael Gaitskell’s Mill Pottery

November: visit to the Eeles Pottery, Dorset


11th February: Potters Film night at Pool School, Cornwall led by Chris Gronow

24th February: tour of Dartington Pottery workshop

26th March: visit to Tate Gallery St. Ives

23rd April: Potters’ Day at Bridgwater, with Elizabeth Fritch, Tim Andrews and Morgen Hall

22nd May: visit to Potters’ Fair at Lamballe, Brittany

14th May: AGM at East Devon College with guest speaker Ian Gregory

18th June: visit to Holborne Museum and Craft Study Centre, Bath

July: WPA exhibition, `Pots and Potters’ at The County Museum, Taunton

8th October: Jon Middlemiss slide talk and discussion at Plymouth College of Art

5th November: exhibition by Members of the CPA at the V&A Museum. WPA members selected were : Tim Andrews, Felicity Aylieff, David Brown, Ian Gregory, Eileen Jones, Michael Skipwith, Peter Smith and Takeshi Yasuda.

November: `Potters at Home’ visit to Clive Bowen and Svend Bayer

7th December: Christmas Supper at East Devon College


4th March: Masterclass event with Felicity Aylieff and Takeshi Yasuda at the University of West of England, Bristol

13th May: AGM at East Devon College with guest speaker Chris Speyer

3rd June: demonstration by Robin Welch and Daphne Carnegy at Bridgwater College

WPA Summer exhibition at Saltram House, Plymouth

September/October: WPA exhibition at Dartington Cider Press Centre

23rd September: visit to Doreen Gardner and Tony Smither at Orchard Pottery


1996: advertising began in the WPA newsletter

17th February: workshop visit to Tom Fisher

9th March: Masterclass event with Phil Rogers and David Brown, University of West England, Bristol

4th May: workshop visit to Bruce Chivers

19th May: AGM at East Devon College

May/June: exhibition at Trelowarren Gallery, Cornwall, at the invitation of the Cornwall Ceramics Association

1st June: workshop visit to Roger Harris

June 1996: Doreen Gardner became the new Chair of the WPA Committee

29-30th June: Potters’ Fair at Bickleigh, with Sandy Brown demonstrating and Heather Strong firing raku kiln

18th December: Christmas Social at Old Coaching Inn. Chudleigh, Devon


March: workshop visit to Mark Donaldson

April: workshop visit to Richard Wilson

April 1997: Newsletter Issue 27 notes that Joanne Richards had been the Newsletter Editor for three and a half years, and oversaw the introduction of Regional Editors Tony Smither, Pauline Ivimey-Cook, Frances Mansfield, Julia Hamilton, Jean Craven and Mignon Korn. Treston Holmes was the Minuting Secretary

May: workshop visit to Ian Gregory

31st May: AGM at East Devon College with guest speaker Douglas Phillips

21st-22nd June: Potters’ Fair at Bickleigh with Gabrielle Koch

July: workshop visit to Rowena Kinsman

August: workshop visit to Fran and Frank Benatt

September: workshop visit to Tom Fisher


7th February: workshop visit to Paul Jackson

7Th March: workshop visit to Chris Speyer

15th March: Photographic Day with Keith Markham

11th April: workshop visit to David Winkley

17th May – 4th June: WPA exhibition at Otterton Mill, Devon

25th April: AGM at East Devon College with guest speaker Bruce Chivers

June: newsletter no. 34 comprised 25 sides of A4, including 6 pages of AGM Minutes

20th June: Potters’ Fair at Bickleigh including demonstrations by Peter Lane, Anna Lambert, Nic Harrison, Tom Fisher and raku firings by Heather Strong

18th July: workshop visit to Mark Donaldson

August 4 – 22nd: WPA exhibition at The Meeting House, Ilminster, Somerset

22nd August: workshop visit to Roger Cockram

18th October 1998 – January 1999: exhibition at Atelier 18, Nottingham by 19 Members including Bruce Chivers and Ian Gregory

24th October: workshop visit to Richard Godfrey


Potters’ Tips and hand drawn illustrations began appearing in the newsletter around this time

20th February: studio visit to Helen Ridehalgh

13th March: Potters’ Day at Bridgwater College, with David and Margaret Frith

13th March – 20th April: WPA selected exhibition, Rural Life Museum, Glastonbury, Somerset

15th May: AGM at East Devon College, with videos of thrower Isaac Button, plus Raku English Style

1st – 9th May: Svend Bayer, WPA, held an Open Studio event to celebrate 30 years of making pots

31st May: workshop visit to Roger Harris

19th-20th June: Bickleigh Potters’ Festival with Roger Cockram and Billy Adams

3rd July: workshop visit to Debbie Prosser

3rd July: talk by Richard Coleman-Smith

5th July – 5th August: exhibition at Art Benattar, Crewkerne


January 22nd: Social Lunch at Broomhill Art Hotel, near Barnstaple

19th March: workshop visit to Doreen Gardner and Tony Smither

20th May: AGM at Kenton, near Exeter with guest demonstrator Tim Andrews. In 2000 the AGM now became an all day event, combining it with a demonstration, plus an opportunity for Members to have a chance to talk with each other in a pleasant and friendly venue. Potters were encouraged to bring along a pot for afternoon discussion

17th-18th June: Bickleigh Pottery Festival with Laurel Keeley, Joe Finch and Steve Woodhead

29th July: workshop visit to John Leach

1st – 21st July: `West meets East’ exhibition, All Saints Church, Cambridge

19th August: workshop visit to Nic Collins

8th September: workshop visit to Kate Mellors

21st-30th September, exhibition at Kingfisher Gallery, Sidbury Mill, Sidmouth

7th October: workshop visit to Seth Cardew

18th November: demonstration by Elizabeth Hadley, Brixham School, Devon

2nd – 28th November: WPA exhibition at The Meeting House, Ilminster

November: Michael Gaitskell became WPA Honorary President


20th January: Social Lunch at Dartington Hall

January: Marian and Roger Harris introduced a North Somerset/North Devon/Cornwall Pottery Trail in Newsletter Issue 50. This showed a map of the area with a number key relating to the names and contact details of fifteen potters whose workshops or showrooms were open to the public

16th February: visit to High Cross House, Dartington

March: Richard Wilson became WPA Chairman

4th – 31st March: `East meets West’, East Anglian Potters and WPA, exhibition at Burton Art Gallery, Bideford

10th March: Clive Bowen, Masterclass, Burton Art Gallery, Bideford

21st April: workshop visit to Ross Emerson

12th May: Raku firing day with Heather Strong

19th May: AGM at Kenton Village Hall, guest demonstrator Ian Gregory

15th-16th June: Bickleigh Festival cancelled due to the national outbreak of Foot and Mouth

16th June: first Potters’ Market on the Quay at Exeter, found as an alternative selling venue due to Bickleigh being cancelled this summer. Market organised by Frances Mansfield

17th June: Sunday social at Bickleigh with Nic Harrison and Kati Vamos

22nd July: workshop visit to Richard Champion

22nd July: workshop visit to Roger Harris

19th August: workshop visit to Nicola Werner

30th September: Raku Social Event at Peter and Vera Stride’s home

6th -7th October: paperclay weekend workshop with Ian Gregory

17th November: visit to Taunton Castle Museum, with David Dawson and Oliver Kent


26th January: Social Dinner at the Merriemeade Hotel, Sampford Peverell, Tiverton

20th February: visit to Pangolin Foundry, Chalford, Stroud

6th April: workshop visit to Jonathan Garrett

8th May: visit to Gardens and Sculpture of Bridget McCrum, Dittisham

18th May: AGM at Kenton Village Hall with guest demonstrator John Maltby

15th – 16th June: Bickleigh Pottery Festival including smoke and raku firings, kiln building and demonstrations by Richard Wilson (throwing and decorating), Doreen Gardner (handbuilding with coils), Rod Hare (mould making) and Jim Robison (large sculptural pieces)

13th July: Exeter Potters’ Market on the Quay, organised by Frances Mansfield

27th July: visit to the Bill of Portland and Carenza Hayhoe’s workshop

1st August: visit to Bickley Ceramic Project, near Bristol, making pots for kiln firing experiments, led by Oliver Kent and David Dawson

8th September: workshop visit to Richard Godfrey

19th – 20th October: sculpture weekend Masterclass with Elisabeth Hadley, Brixham

16th November: workshop visit to John Maltby


25th January: Social Lunch at Dartington Hall

15th February: Escorted Tour of Exeter Museum by John Allen

15th March: AGM at Kenton Village Hall celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the WPA with guest demonstrator John Pollex

6th April – 24th May: WPA exhibition at Blue Iris gallery, Tiverton

26th April: workshop visit to Christine-Ann Richards

By May 2003, (Issue 64) Tony and Doreen took over the editorship of the newsletter and decided to redesign it. After much experimenting with A4 and A5 formats, A4 was chosen which allowed for increased photographic opportunities. The new WPA magazine was produced electronically by a printer and Issue 64 featured articles about the work of Christine Anne Richards and John Pollex. New features included Potters’ Tips, Letters from Members and technical articles. The newsletter was by then regularly being sent to other Associations, the Devon Guild, and to Ceramic Review, being the magazine of the Craftsman Potters’ Association of Great Britain. Ceramic Review sometimes featured WPA Potters’ Tips for their national and international readership.

21st June: Bickleigh Festival demonstration by Ruthanne Tudball, soda firing with Anita Peach, raku firings by Beverley Green plus Rod Hare

12th July: Exeter Potters’ Market on the Quay, organised by Eric Saxby

16th July to 11th August: WPA exhibition at Wellbeloved Gallery, Portland, Dorset

19th July: workshop visit to Laurel Keeley

13th September: workshop visit to Dartington Pottery

14th September: Raku Social Event with Vera and Peter Stride, Paignton

25th October: Life drawing/Modelling, Somerset College of Arts

15th November: visit to Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery

December: the WPA’s website address www.westcountrypotters.co.uk was first added to the front cover of newsletter Issue 67

Acknowledgements are due to those Members of the WPA past and present, who have helped to compile this timeline and congratulations to all those who made it happen

1993 to the present day: The Westcountry Potters Timeline

Commencing in 1993, members of the Westcountry Potters Association have been meeting, making and firing for over two decades. Acknowledgements and thanks are due to everyone who has contributed to this ongoing history of the Association.