Page last updated at 15:18 GMT, Thursday, 4 November 2010
Nantgarw pottery museum reopens to the public
Mike and Cath Cole
Artists Mike and Cath Cole have relocated to Nantgarw Pottery

A museum based at a two hundred year old chinaworks site in the south Wales valleys is reopening to the public thanks to a pair of artists.

For the past year the Nantgarw Pottery near Pontypridd has been closed following council staff restructuring.

Mike and Cath Cole have relocated their business there allowing tourists to visit the site again during the week.

Nantgarw House became world famous for its porcelain after William Billingsley bought the premises in 1813.

Billingsley, an artist and potter from Royal Worcester, and his son-in-law Samuel Walker used a secret recipe of bones burnt and mixed with clay to create porcelain.

Despite being an unstable product which suffered a high rate of failure in the kiln, Nantgarw porcelain became highly prized in London among the aristocracy and royalty.

Production of porcelain ended in 1822, but the factory later switched to making stoneware bottles, earthenware and clay tobacco pipes until it finally closed in 1920.

In 1989 the semi-derelict site was bought by the then Taff Ely County Borough Council which opened it to the public two years later.

Nantgarw porcelain cup and saucer
Nantgarw porcelain from the early 19th Century is highly prized

Since then the site has seen archaeological excavation and restoration of its kilns and buildings, and the creation of a museum displaying examples of Nantgarw porcelain and other historic artefacts.

Following its temporary closure, the building is now being reopened after the Coles - a sculptor and a filmmaker - transferred their business there from the Model House Craft and Design Centre in Llantrisant.

As well as working on their own projects, the Coles are planning to offer a series of craft courses and are looking for other artists to take part.

"It is a wonderful opportunity to be sited in such surroundings," said Cath.

"We have already had very positive reaction locally and I'm sure plenty of visitors to the county borough will want to see for themselves the proud heritage associated with the pottery.

The premises are supported by the Association of Friends of Nantgarw who run a programme of lectures and raise funds for restoration and repairs.

Cllr Robert Bevan, Rhondda Cynon Taf council's cabinet member for culture, recreation and tourism, said: "Nantgarw Pottery is one of the jewels in Rhondda Cynon Taf and attracts many hundreds of visitors per year.

"Thanks to the support and enthusiasm of Mike and Cath Cole, I'm convinced the site will have a very bright future."

Nantgarw Pottery is open to the public from Wednesday to Sunday, 10am to 4pm - see the Nantgarw China Works website for details.


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