Time For Tea with Barnsley Museums

In celebration of National Tea Day, Tracey Hebron (Collections Clerk) and Michael Hardy (Digital Engagement Curator) have tea-med up to explore tea related objects from the collections of Barnsley Museums


The Barnsley Canister Company

BMBC.TH.2396 – Commemorative tin

National Tea Day is an annual celebration marked on 21st April. This date was chosen as it coincides with the birthday of Queen Elizabeth II During the Coronation year in 1953, Barnsley Canister Company known locally as ‘the tin oyle’ were known across the world as makers of beautiful tins several of which were made especially for the Queen’s coronation and were given out to the people of Barnsley as souvenirs.

In the 1980s the factory’s biggest customer by far was an American packaging company called Daher. Also known as The Tin Box Company of America, it is still located on Long Island, New York. Every Monday morning a container load of tins would be packed up bound for the USA.  The introduction of Tupperware® and plastic containers in the 1970s meant the company needed new initiatives to remain market leaders. ‘Baret Ware’ was introduced to bring affordable homeware to the consumer. Top artists were commissioned for bespoke projects, including household names such as Jill Barklem, designer of Brambly Hedge, illustrator Gillian Tyler and American designer, Dana Kubick. Gold awards for design and quality were rolling in from packaging and giftware associations including the Hunkydory Bears, French company Charcuterie Alsacienne, and Baret Ware. 

Barnsley Canister Company Artwork

Experience Barnsley has original artwork for the canister company where the tins came in all shapes and sizes including designs for Twinnings.

For more information about the tin oyle, see our previous blog: https://barnsleymuseums.art.blog/2020/06/10/tins-tins-tins/

We also have a blog about Royal Visits in Barnsley https://barnsleymuseums.art.blog/2022/05/27/royal-visits-and-celebrations/

Tea Urns

This Samovar, more commonly known as a tea urn is one of the more recent donations to Experience Barnsley. Belonging to George Ernest Robinson’s (b. 1892 Dodworth), this tea urn was given to him for service for looking after the pit ponies when he was a coal miner in the first part of the 20th century. Pit ponies had a very hard job but were often looked after well, hopefully being able to retire to the green fields of Barnsley. George worked with the pit ponies and lived in Wilthorpe with his wife Minnie.  

BMBC.CH.206.2 Tea urn

In the collections of Cannon Hall Museum is a much more decorative tea urn. We are unaware of the maker but the piece, glazed in black and then hand decorated with flowers and leaves in gold and yellow would have been a striking object on any table. Tea urns were invented in the 1600s, and were usually paced on a table to hold hot water, often used for public display they were designed to be decorative like this one.

Miners Tea Pot

BMBC.TH.206 Tin tea set

A large red tin teapot with cup and mug. Used by donor’s father and taken down the pit, so it is surprisingly still in good condition considering the conditions it was used in! Down the coal mine, tea breaks were often twenty minutes and would be taken at an agreed time. We have been creating audio descriptions of some of our objects, this tea set is one of them https://soundcloud.com/barnsleymuseums/teapot-cup-strainer-20th?in=barnsleymuseums/sets/barnsley-museums-audio-descriptions

Sometimes called “snap time” after the lunch tins that miners used to take their food underground in. Sandwiches would be filled with dripping and jam. They would also have taken a drink in a round metal or tin container such as this one

Goblin Teasmade

BMBC.TH.338 – Goblin teasmade

A Goblin teasmade with stainless steel pot for boiling water. Teasmades generally include an analogue alarm clock and are designed to be used at the bedside, to ensure tea is ready first thing in the morning. Versions were around in Victorian times but they only became practical with the availability of electric versions in the 1930s onwards especially in the 1960s and 1970s.You can view a teasmade in the home section of Experience Barnsley Museum and listen to an audio description here: https://soundcloud.com/barnsleymuseums/1960s-goblin-teasmade?in=barnsleymuseums/sets/barnsley-museums-audio-descriptions

Ceramic Teapots at Cannon Hall Museum

On display and also in the collections of Cannon Hall are lots of lovely teapots in all shapes and sizes, here are a few of our favourites

A ceramic teapot and lid made from creamware. The teapot has a twisted two strand handle and moulded spout. The lid has a moulded flower finial. The whole is hand painted with flowers and foliage in green, yellow, pink and red.
BMBC.CH.74 Ceramic Teapot

This ceramic teapot was made by Leeds or Staffordshire Pottery. It has a twisted two strand handle and moulded spout. The lid has a moulded flower finial and is made of creamware. The whole piece is hand painted with flowers and foliage in green, yellow, pink and red. Creamware was developed by Josiah Wedgwood to imitate Chinese and European porcelains and was very popular in the 18th century. Leeds Pottery, as well as many Staffordshire based potteries, were well known for imitating Wedgwood’s creamware and very few of the wares are marked. Teapots were first used in around 1705 and were regarded as a status symbols

Ceramic teapot and lid which are part of a partial tea set together with sugar bowl and milk jug. They are all made in the style of jasperware developed by Wedgwood in the 18th century

BMBC.CH.1792.3a&b, Ceramic Teapot by William Adams & Sons, 19th century

Ceramic Teapot by William Adams & Sons, 19th century. This ceramic teapot and lid which are part of a partial tea set together with sugar bowl and milk jug are all made in the style of jasperware developed by Wedgwood in the 18th century. They have a dark blue background and white classical figures and decoration applied on top. The insides of the pieces are glazed to make them practical to use. Adams were based in Tunstall, Staffordshire and would have been very aware of Wedgwood’s ceramics which were very popular. It was not unusual for different potteries to produce very similar wares.

A ceramic teapot made from porcelain or bone china moulded in the form of a camel and its handler. The camel's head forms the spout and the handler forms the handle. The lid is in the form of a package on the camel's back.
BMBC.CH.1512 – Ceramic Teapot by Royal Doulton

This teapot would become a talking point at most tea parties! Dating back to the 1920s this eye catching teapot was made by Royal Dolton, which we have more examples of in the museum collections which you can search for here: www.explorebarnsleycollections.com

Museum Mugs

We have got lots of commemorative mugs in our collections, one of which is from the Barnsley British Co-operative Society in their jubilee year in 1912. Barnsley British Co-operative Society (BBCS) was founded in August 1861 as a result of being heavily influenced by the philosophy of a founding member named George Adcroft. Adcroft had moved from Lancashire to work at the Oaks Colliery in Barnsley. He had previously been a member of the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers which was established in 1844. The Rochdale society was one of the first co-operatives to pay a dividend ‘divi’ to its members and many of its objectives around trading were used as a basis for new co-operatives across the country. The first store in Barnsley was opened in March 1862 at 16 Market Street and the first district store opened in Dodworth in 1863. 

Read more about the Barnsley British Co-operative Society in this blog: https://barnsleymuseums.art.blog/2020/07/31/barnsley-british-co-operative-society/

BMBC.TH.223 Oaks Disaster Mug

This mug commemorates the second explosion of the Oaks Disaster in 1866. This was the worst mining disaster in English history as 383 miners and rescuers were killed after a series of violent explosions. George Frederick Gee, who worked on a farm at Staincross, used to take the cup into the fields with him and often share out water amongst the agricultural workers.

Was your ancestor killed in the Oaks disaster? There’s a searchable database here https://discoverdearne.org.uk/oaks-disaster-victims/

BMBC.CH.162 Ceramic mug, Unknown British Maker, Late 19th, early 20th century

This small ceramic mug is made from soft-paste porcelain or bone china. It has a moulded band towards the top. It is decorated with gilt and has the name ‘George’ on it. Items like these were often given as Christening presents or for other special occasions.

BMBC.CH.1503 Caribbean’ Mug by Walter Moorcroft, 1960s

‘Caribbean’ Mug by Walter Moorcroft, 1960s A ceramic mug of slightly rounded form. The decoration depicts a beach with palm trees and boats in shades of yellow and green against a deep red ground. The design was known as ‘Caribbean’, it was introduced in 1961 and withdrawn in 1963. It was often used in conjunction with a flambe glaze.

BMBC.CH.90 – Ceramic Cup and Saucer, Unknown British maker

Ceramic Cup and Saucer, Unknown British maker. A ceramic, miniature cup and saucer made from soft-paste porcelain or bone china. The ground is decorated with deep blue and gilded. In the panel on the cup is a hand- painted display of flowers in red, orange and blue. Items like this were made to reflect the highly decorative porcelains produced by Sevres and Meissen in the 18th and 19th centuries.

BMBC.CH.2014.1 Ceramic Mug by Richard Batterham, Mid 20th Century

A ceramic mug in the studio pottery style with a greenish glaze. At the beginning of his career, Richard Batterham worked for two years under Bernard Leach at his pottery in St Ives, Cornwall. He and his wife, Dinah Dunn, set up their own pottery in 1959 at Durweston in Dorset and from 1967 Batterham worked from his own pottery workshop there. His work is described as being in the Leach tradition although it is said he feels more in tune with Michael Cardew. His pots are described as being ‘functional – simple, satisfying and beautiful’, and are made ‘to enrich life rather than adorn it.’

BMBC.CH.2014.1 Cup and saucer by Dame Lucie Rie, mid 20th century

A Hand-thrown cup and saucer with a manganese glaze on the upper area of the saucer and the outside of the cup. The other areas are finished with an off-white glaze. Dame Lucie Rie was born and trained in Vienna but moved to London prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. She became one of the country’s most important potters producing elegant ceramics in porcelain and her pieces are on display in many national and international museums.

WWI Biscuit

A decent cuppa wouldn’t be complete without a cuppa but we’re not sure how dunkable this one is! ‘Army biscuits’ were made out of whole wheat flour and were sugar free. The biscuit we have in our collection is almost fully intact which is testament to how hard the biscuits were! Soldiers would soak in water before attempting to eat. This biscuit belonged to George Burnett who was 33 when he enlisted in the First World War to the 13th Yorks and Lancs regiment in 1914, according to his army enlistment record he had previously worked in a chemical factory. He was married to Eva Thornton and lived at King Street Barnsley. George was lost on the Somme in 1916 for 4 days, and was later treated for Shell Shock in an army hospital. He brought home many items from the trenches with him, including this army issue biscuit. He returned to Barnsley to work in Borrow Colliery after being discharged from the army in 1919.

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