The Wivenhoe Ceramic Pottery Collection
History of Marjorie Barton's Ceramic Collection
‘The Wivenhoe Collection’ comprises a collection of forty five pottery models of buildings in Wivenhoe made by Marjorie Barton. These can be viewed inthe Wivenhoe Museum.
Marjorie was born in the East End of London and during WW11 was evacuated to Devon. She had no formal art training but she used her artistic skills and hard work to develop a very successful business.
When she was young with three small children she lived in Wivenhoe, and at one time served petrol at Cedric’s Garage. Marjorie later moved to Kirby Cross where she set up a cottage industry in her home. The bungalow was called ‘Sulley’s and this was the name she gave to her business.
In the late 1970’s she decided to take an evening course in pottery and she instantly realised it was something she really enjoyed. It was at this time Marjorie took a job with a lady in Colchester making the ‘Lavenham Collection’, and she painted some of the ceramic models. When this lady retired Marjorie bought her moulds to get started, and it was then that she decided to take up model making seriously. Marjorie started the hard way with little money to support her business and she used the kiln at Oakley Craft Centre for firing her models.
Marjorie and her husband Ron toured Essex and Suffolk looking for interesting buildings, taking photos, making sketches, then making the moulds and finally decorating the ceramic pieces produced. The work was labour intensive and she realised with the orders increasing that she needed more help. It was at this time her husband gave up his job to join her in the lengthy process of making the models. They needed a suitable premises with a workshop and shop, and this is when they found ‘The Corner Shop’ in Tunstall, Suffolk.
Some models were made to commemorate special events and others commisioned by churches to be sold in aid of church funds. It is thought that she modelled over 50 churches. There is a St.Mary’s Millenium Church in the Wivenhoe Collection.
All her models should be stamped ‘Sulley’s’ but some may have a paper label with a number. Marjorie had a friend Pat who may have copied her models in a more colourful way and these are labelled ‘Pat Fry’.
In the 1980’s the Talisman Shop in Wivenhoe sold Marjorie’s ceramic models. As well as the Wivenhoe Collection other models were made by her of buildings in Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk and even Stratford – on – Avon. Eventually Marjorie left ‘The Corner shop’ and went to set up a Pottery in Dovercourt. She carried on producing models in small quantities till her death in February 2021. She was a creative lady who enjoyed embroidery, painting and pottery.
Thanks go to her son Robert Barton, for his help with the information for this article.