Who Owned Spode?

Signature of Spode I, 1776
The ownership of the Spode company, the factory in Church Street, Stoke-on-Trent, together with other businesses, for example the important one in London, is complicated.

Some books prior to 1997 do not have the correct information about the early history of the Spode factory. 

Important research shedding light on the early years of the Spode company and its founder, and correcting previously published and oft-repeated misinformation, can be found in the well-researched paper by Peter Roden, 'Josiah Spode (1733-1797): his formative influences and the various Potworks associated with him'; published in the Northern Ceramic Society Journal Vol 14 1997*. Roden's research is also summarised in 'Spode & Copeland Marks & Other Relevant Intelligence', by Robert Copeland, 2nd edition, Appendix XI, pages 175-177.

There are some further details about some members of the Spode and Copeland families on my Spode ABC. Look on the C and S pages.

Here is my simplified outline of the company ownership presented in the style of a family tree:

Spode I & Tomlinson partnership
c1767 - 1774 (in Stoke upon Trent) 
Mountford & Spode I partnership
1772 - c1779 (in Shelton)
Spode I & Spode II - the (main) factory purchased in Stoke 1776
 ('traditional' date used by Spode company for start of business is 1770)
Run under Spode I, Spode II & Spode III until 1829
Continues as Spode under 'trustees' until 1833
London business founded by Josiah Spode II in c1778.
Various names/partnerships
By 1805 run by William Spode (eldest son of Josiah Spode II) & William Copeland  (William Spode retires 1811)
By 1822 known as Spode & Copeland now run by Josiah Spode II & William Copeland;
1824 -1826 known as Spode, Copeland & Son
Throughout the manufacturing business continues at Stoke
After 1833 the name Spode continues as a brand under the ownership of the Copelands as follows:

Copeland & Garrett 1833 - 1847
W. T. Copeland 1847 - 1867
W. T. Copeland & Sons 1867 - 1932
W. T. Copeland & Sons Ltd 1932 - 1970
(Name remains to 1970 but ownership changes in 1966)
NB: briefly owned by Josiah Wedgwood & Sons Ltd 1964**
Spode Ltd 1970 - 2009
(various ownerships)
(Name changes in 1970 but ownership changed in 1966)
In administration 2008 and closes 2009
Spode brand purchased by Portmeirion 2009

Copeland & Garrett backstamp c1838-1847
Signature of William Copeland, 1790
Copeland Spode England backstamp 1923
Spode backstamp 1960s

* Peter Roden's, Josiah Spode (1733-1797): his formative influences and the various Potworks associated with him is available to consult at the Spode archive. The publisher's website, the Northern Ceramic Society, can be found by clicking NCS. Click here for my booklist.

** Josiah Wedgwood & Sons Ltd Ownership
It is perhaps little known that in 1963/1964 an agreement was made with Josiah Wedgwood & Sons Ltd. to buy/take over/merge with Spode (not clear from my notes). An agreement was reached but Wedgwood rescinded after 3 months even though some formal 'celebrations' had already taken place between the 2 companies!
(Spode archive ref: SD1440/RC034/010)

After Wedgwood had rescinded, therefore remaining rival and competitor of Spode, there was some concern within the Spode board that Wedgwood had had 3 months access to Spode's facts and figures which would of course be commercially sensitive.
(Spode archive ref: SD1440/RC017/011)

J & G Meakin Ltd involvement
After this in 1964 the Spode company was still in real difficulties and talks took place with J & G Meakin Ltd. relating to possible payment to them for their management services to Spode and them acquiring some shares but not 'acquiring control' of the company. It seems this did not proceed either.
(Spode archive ref: SD1440/RC034/011)