IronbridgeMaws Craft Centre
Shropshire TF8 7LS
If you want to buy something unique and special, there is no better place to look than Maws Craft Centre in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ironbridge Gorge in Shropshire, England.
Maws Craft Centre is situated in what remains of the former tile factory of Maw & Co. The factory was built in 1883 and closed its doors in 1970. In the 1980s the Telford Development Corporation demolished some of the site and converted the remaining buildings into business units and flats. In 1988 a group of tenants formed a limited company in order to buy the site.
The new company was called Maws Craft Centre (Jackfield) Limited in honour of its former owners. Since acquiring the site the company has used a large proportion of its rental income to renovate the areas that were still derelict and improve the buildings that were originally converted.
They have done a wonderful job. The former Victorian tile factory has been beautifully restored and turned into twenty or more independently run craft studios. The Craft Centre now houses a whole host of arts, crafts and design businesses, as well as a café, a dance studio and a holistic therapy centre.
Situated in the pretty village of Jackfield, only 1.5 miles from the famous Iron Bridge, the Centre advertises itself as “a crafty little secret in the gorge".
The large courtyard is used to host annual events including Glenn Miller Evenings, Jackfield Brass Band Concerts, World Heritage Events, Outdoor Art Exhibitions, and Seasonal Markets. For up to date information click on  Web:  Maws Craft Centre/ Events
The Centre is open 7 days a week (though individual shop opening times vary). Click on the link below for the individual studios and their opening times  Web: Maws Craft Centre/ Studios & Shops
History of Maw & Co
The company was formed in 1850 by George Maw and his brother Arthur when they bought an ailing tile business in Worcester. They manufactured floor tiles and quickly gained a high reputation for their encaustic “Mock-Mediaeval” tiles. However, they had to contend with the same problems as the company they had bought out – the local clays were unsuitable and materials had to be brought in at great expense from Shropshire.
Encaustic tiles are floor tiles with a pattern made of different colours of inlaid clay.
In 1852 they relocated to Shropshire to the Benthall Works at Broseley where they could make use of the clay as well as coal. The brothers soon opened their own mines. At first the company barely covered its expenses and full commercial production did not begin until 1857. A few years later encaustic tiles became the height of fashion. Maw & Co were the first to use six and more colours.
Mosaic tiles also formed a large part of Maw's business. In 1862 a patent mosaic tile was introduced. At the same time George Maw was experimenting with majolica glazes and later on with faience. Transfer printed and hand painted picture tiles were produced as well as relief tiles and gilt ones with the entire design executed in gold.
By the 1880’s Maw & Co had become one of the most influential and important tile manufacturers. To help meet the increasing demand Maw & Co made more and more mechanical improvements using steam driven tile presses for example and in 1883 moved to new premises at a more appropriate site at Jackfield covering five acres with every convenience in services and layout.
At the height of the tile boom the company produced over 20 million tiles a year and published lavishly printed catalogues. Maw’s “lists of persons and establishments supplied” ran to five pages and included the Royal Family, Alexander II of Russia, two maharajas, nine dukes, twelve earls, the railway companies, thirteen cathedrals, thirty-six hospitals, fifty-three public buildings, nineteen schools and colleges, and five warships.
At the end of the century Maw & Co was the largest tile factory in the world. Art Nouveau designs were followed by unique Art Deco geometric styles. Unfortunately the recession at the end of the First World War and building restrictions and the closure of the railway in the decades following World War II were very detrimental for tile production in Jackfield and eventually the factory closed in January 1970.
This writer thanks Maws Craft Centre (Jackfield) Ltd for the historical information on this page.
Contact & Further Information
Maws Craft Centre (Jackfield) Ltd, Unit B31.
Telephone    +44 (0)1952 883 030    
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   
Getting There & Parking
Detailed information is in the Ironbridge Gorge article in this website 
Google Map - Ironbridge Gorge

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