James Powell bought the Whitefriars Glass Factory in 1834 and renamed it Powell & Sons. He ran it with his three sons originally specialising in stained glass windows and industrial glass but later went on to be very successful in the arts market.
By the early 20th century Powell & Sons were known for their fashionable art glass, producing coloured and clear glass decorated with streaks and waves.
His ‘textured’ range used random objects to produce wonderful textured effects
The factory was renamed Whitefriars in 1962. Today Whitefriars is particularly well-known for its Textured range launched in 1967 and designed by Geoffrey Baxter. Baxter, an art student at the time, joined the company in 1954 as a designer under chief designer, William Wilson.
This Soft Modern style was taken up at Whitefriars by designer James Hogan, just before the war
Baxter’s Textured range used an array of random objects to produce wonderful textured effects.
Items such as tree bark, nail heads and thick wire were placed inside wooden moulds to create these effects.
He used more cost-effective soda-lime glass in these moulds.
The moulds were reused, often many times, and this can affect the quality of some of the pieces.
The Textured range introduced innovative shapes and psychedelic colours.
Shapes such as the Banjo, the TV and of course the Drunken Bricklayer were paired with new colours like Tangerine orange, Kingfisher blue and Meadow green to create striking pieces. Later in the 1970s, Whitefriars also released a second range entitled Late Textured.
Baxter’s work is highly collectable today and rare pieces will realise high prices.
Due to the nature of the designs, it is important to check for cracks, chips or bubbles which will impact value.
Despite the success of Baxter’s ranges and the popularity of the Whitefriars’ glass, it succumbed to the economic climate and closed in 1980.