The Pottery at South Loch NessThe Aldourie Pottery was situated on the site of the present Dores Parish Hall, and was operational from around 1900, probably only for seven or eight years. The driving force behind the project was Mary Watts, born Mary Fraser Tytler, whose family owned Aldourie. A more than competent painter in her own right, she married GF Watts, the famous 19th century English artist and, after her marriage, concentrated more on other forms of art, including pottery and highly symbolic work in other mediums, with a blend of art nouveau and celtic designs.
Mary had started another pottery at Compton, the Watts’ home near Guilford, based on the “Potter’ Arts Guild”, whose objective was to teach and encourage local people to develop their artistic skills. The same model was applied at Dores, and even the buildings were of a style more to be expected in Surrey than in Inverness-shire. (The pottery itself was accompanied by two houses, both recently demolished, known as “Pottery Cottage” and “The Chalet”.) It is probably due to the fact that the Watts’ spent more time at Compton than at Aldourie (at least until his death in 1904) that the production here did not last very long. Another reason may have been that, although some local clay was tried, it was found not to be suitable, meaning that material had to be brought in, adding greatly to the cost of production
The pottery building itself remained until 1950, with occasional use as a village hall. It was demolished in that year to make way for the present hall.
The output of the Dores pottery was mainly large garden pots, mostly identical to those produced at Compton. Some of these bear a “seal”, which is the same as the Compton mark, apart from the name. The inscription reads “Their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel.” Square flower boxes were also produced and some decorative panels. When the War Memorial Gate at the Dores Church was erected, some panels which were found in the pottery were used on the outer face. Some of the designs were similar to those used in the Chapel at Compton, making it likely that they were the work either of Mary herself, or of Louis Deuchars, manager of the Dores Pottery, who had previously worked on the construction of the Chapel. Unfortunately these did not survive the harsh weather, and have now completely disappeared.
Compton pots were sold through Liberty & Co., and are now available as reproductions, but it is unlikely that either pottery was financially viable.
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