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 until 1905 at the latest. 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, which from 1906 became 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, 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 from Cumnock in Ayrshire, adding greatly to the cost of production.
Dores Pottery with Miss Robertson (top of stairs) and Mrs Edith Fraser Tytler
Louis Deuchars, who taught the local villagers at Compton to make pottery, was sent north by Mrs Watts in 1901 to do the same for local people in the Dores area. The Pottery was overseen by Mrs Edith Fraser Tytler, but managed by Miss Robertson. The building, occasionally used as the village hall until 1950, when it was demolished 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, showing that the moulds must have been sent north. Some of these bear a “seal”, which is the same as the Compton mark, apart from the name of “Aldourie Dores” in the centre. The surrounding inscription reads “Their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel.” Ezekiel 1.16.
Square flower boxes were also produced and some decorative panels, later used on the Dores War Memorial. Two tiles, dated 1902, bear a different name, ALDOURIE HOME ARTS POTTERY DORES Nr INVERNESS, possibly because examples of the pottery were sold at the annual Highland Home Industries Show in Inverness.
Now in Dunrobin Castle Museum, is another one-off design, a shallow bowl, which seems to have been designed as a gift for the Rev Thomas Sinton and his new wife Catherine Macpherson in 1903.
When the War Memorial Gate at the Dores Church was erected, two panels which were found in the pottery were used on the outer face. The designs, by Mary Watts, were the same as those on the Chapel at Compton. Unfortunately, the Dores ones did not survive the harsh weather, and fell off, leaving only two outer panels which had been made specially at Compton Pottery for the War Memorial. To mark the centenary of World War I, replica panels were made by Hathern Terra Cotta and installed on the arch in 2018.
Back Row : John Shaw, Duncan Cameron, Alick MacDonald, James Macgillivray, George White
Front Row : John Cameron, D. Williams, Bob White, Bob Fraser, Duncan Johnston
More information about both potteries in Mary Seton Watts and the Compton Pottery by Hilary Calvert and Louise Boreham (2019).