Ray and Eileen arrived in Auckland in 1959, the day before the harbour bridge opened. At that time Tom Clark was recruiting specialists from English potteries to boost the quality of Crown Lynn's products. Ray was a mould maker from J & G Meakin; Eileen a hand decorator - or 'paintress' as she referred to herself - from Johnson Brothers.
Ray told me that it took seven years training to be a mould maker in England. "You started off getting everyone's afternoon tea, then slowly you would work up to being on the bench." When he started work at Crown Lynn Ray introduced new moulding techniques, improving quality and productivity. Very soon Tom Clark asked him to manage the mould room.
Here are Ray and Eileen at work at Crown Lynn, from a company newsletter in September 1964.
And this is Eileen when I met her, with her three favourite vases (the blue one behind her in the background is not Crown Lynn.)
For the vase below, Eileen applied the little flowers with a stamp, then hand coloured them. The silver was also hand applied.
These lovely photos were taken by Studio Lagonda for my first book.
The vases below are from an old auction catalogue. Eileen recalled that each was put on a small turntable and spun around, using a brush to apply the concentric lines. For the vase on the right, paper stickers were applied to create blank dots as she applied the lines. Once the lines had been competed the paper was removed and the blank dots decorated with a brush.
Here is a photo - from a March 1963 newsletter - of a painter decorating what looks like a lamp base while a supervisor examines her work.
Ray and Eileen told me that Crown Lynn was very social in the 1960s and 1970s. The mould room boys used to hire a boat and go fishing on the Kaipara Harbour in the weekends, catching heaps of fish. And, said Eileen, "we went to the Crown Lynn balls all dressed up and when we got there we used to all say snap because we all got the same dresses from this little shop in New Lynn and we all had to go to the same hairdresser."
After a few years Eileen left Crown Lynn and worked in a shoe shop - she enjoyed the break from the pottery business. Ray stayed on to the end, and helped package up the machinery when the factory finally closed. Here is a plate which was made to commemorate the last meeting of the Service Club - there were awards for working at the pottery for 20 years or longer. This plate is signed by all the club members on 24 May, 1989, at the time when the factory was closing.
and the other side..