All fired up for Jubilee orders

THE kilns have been working overtime at historic Great Yarmouth Potteries to produce thousands of mugs to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympics.

Ernie and Karen Childs, who have run the business for 34 years, have been working around the clock to finish orders for local schools, councils and clubs in time for the Jubilee bank holiday weekend.

As well as receiving orders from close to home for their lovingly-crafted mugs, they have also been asked to send the wares to Essex and Northumbria – and even a consignment to Nepal.

Work started on the designs at Christmas and so far the potteries have made around 3,000 celebratory mugs for the Jubilee and London Olympics.

The couple are helped by Rosemary Whyborn, 77, who has worked with them since they began.

Mrs Childs, 61, said it was all hands to the pump to get the orders for the mugs finished.

“We have been doing them since Christmas and we sit at night times working on them,” she said.

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“Most of the moulds are hand carved by Ernie. They are done in very hard plaster and once we have got that we make a mould out of it and fill them with a liquid clay called slip with water from our well.

“They are fettled to take the rough seams and edges off and once that is done either dipped, sprayed or hand-painted depending on the item and order.

“They go back into the kiln for two days and then after that they come out and have lithographs put on. These are picture transfers that Ernie does.”

Mr Childs, who was born in Yarmouth’s Rows, said: “We make our own glazes and I paint pictures for the transfers. No other company I know does that – there is no other pottery like this in the world.”

He said he was very proud that the commemorative mugs are going overseas and to schools and clubs.

Each has their village or school name put on the bottom, making them a unique gift. The potteries are also making a limited number of blue tankards featuring Sandringham and the Queen for the Jubilee.

“I love the idea of kids getting them,” said Mr Childs. “I got one for the Coronation and I have kept it all these years

“If you get a nice china mug and you put it in a glass case it keeps. If you get a bag of sweets it is not quite the same.

“The nice thing about our china is that it stands the test of time for thousands of years.”

He added: “For six months we have had this all in the pipeline. We are still getting phone calls asking for orders for the Jubilee.

“We have to make sure we can do them. We are geared up for it and we will work through the night to get it all done as we do not want to let anyone down.”

Mr Childs, 64, is due to retire in the summer and the couple, who have three children and seven grandchildren, would love to see someone continue the business.

“I do think it needs somebody to take over who is younger,” said Mrs Childs. “We do art classes upstairs and would love to see it carried on in the same vein.”

If you would like to order a mug or to find out more about the potteries visit