Learn about Belleek
The Belleek porcelain factory was founded in County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland about 1849, after landowner John Caldwell Bloomfield inherited his father's estate, and undertaking a geological survey, discovered the area was rich in minerals.
Bloomfield went into partnership with a London architect and a Dublin merchant and set up a pottery business to provide work for the tenant farmers whose lives had been decimated by the Irish potato famine.
The construction of the pottery commenced in 1858, and it included a railway line to the works, so coal could be delivered for the kilns.
The company commenced producing domestic wares, but it wasn't until 1863 that small quantities of the translucent ivory-looking porcelain for which Belleek is famous, were produced.
Belleek was popular with Queen Victoria and was displayed at the great 19th century exhibitions, and enjoyed a large export market.
Typical Belleek items include figures, vases, dishes, eggshell-thin tea services, and baskets, often with delicate open lattice-work. Marine motifs were commonly used including Neptune, shells, seaweed, mermaids, dolphins and coral and wares. more...