The end for Blythe Colours?

Blythe Colour Works, which has dominated the life of Cresswell for over a hundred years, could be on its last lap.
The works was famous for producing the different types of colourations needed in the pottery industry.

Johnson Matthey, the worldwide chemicals firm which acquired the works back in 1963, has announced that it sees little future for the Cresswell site (on Blythe Business Park).
Although our local base used to have a strong position within Johnson Matthey’s ‘precious metals’ division, the world scene appears to have changed. JM say there is now less demand now for decorative pottery – and that means less need for the kind of colours dealt with by Cresswell.

Blythe Colours offices

The proud 1930s office building on the business park at Cresswell still houses what’s left of Blythe Colours

It’s a far call from the days of the Second World War when the American Army created a base within 100 yards of the works site, just so that its personnel could walk over to use the expertise in chemicals that could be found there.
Even in the 1980s, it employed over 500 workers. Now, just around 60 remain and the ground-space covered by the firm has shrunk in thirty from twenty acres to just one.

There is a little hope though. Johnson Matthey has started a ‘consultation process’ with the workforce – and maybe someone will come up with a bright idea on how to continue… Let’s hope that something turns up.
The consultation process lasts until the end of this month.


Of course, it’s a fact that many, many people living in Draycott & Cresswell will have strong memories of the Colour Works, and also of the famous names associated with the works – names such as the Wildbloods and the Vavasours.

Blythe Colours branded cars

Before the war, Blythe Colours ran a fleet of its own branded cars.
(Courtesy of the Barry Phillips Photo Collection)

Cresswell’s own historian, Barry Phillips (a Colours man himself), already has a large collection of documents and photos relating to the one hundred years of the Colour Works history.
If you have memories, or photos and documents, that you would like to share, or to talk about, please get in touch with us at this website.

In the meantime… it’s fingers crossed…

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