1849 John Caldwell Bloomfield
the Castlecaldwell estate, which encompassed the village of Belleek, from his
father. Mindful of the plight of his tenants in the aftermath of the potato
famine he sought to provide some form of worthwhile employment. An amateur
mineralogist, he ordered a geological survey of his land. To his delight it
revealed the necessary raw materials to make Pottery - feldspar, kaolin, flint,
clay and shale.
The village of Belleek, whose name in Gaelic, Beal Leice, translates to
"Flagstone Ford" was a natural choice to locate the business especially the part
of the village
as Rose Isle. This small isle provided the best opportunity to leash the yet
untamed power of the River Erne - power to drive a mill wheel strong enough to
grind components into Slip, the term applied to liquid potters clay.
By as early as 1865 the company had
established a growing market throughout Ireland and England and was exporting
pieces to the United States, Canada and Australia. Prestigious orders were being
received from Queen Victoria, the Prince of Wales and the nobility.
Porcelain was featured by Belleek for the first time at the Dublin
1872. Their display was the largest in the Irish and English industrial areas.
Among the pieces listed in the catalogue for the event are Parian china statues
and busts, ice buckets, compotes and centerpieces.
Belleek's reputation has been built on product excellence. Back in 1857, the pottery's founder John Caldwell Bloomfield declared that any piece with even the slightest flaw should be destroyed. This golden rule is still employed.