Queen Victoria Building, Sydney, Australia

@AdamDavidMorton Tweeted:

@potteriestiles Could these tiles in the Queen Victoria Building (QVB) in Sydney/Australia be from the Potteries?”

After an initial communication about the original commission and information gleaned online – here’s an update and more details from David Malkin who kindly offers this insightful and most interesting reply:

“The tiles on the present floor were not made in UK, but in Japan.The original tiles were made by Wedgwood, when the building was built at the end of the 19th century .Wedgwood stopped making tiles in about 1918. Plans to renovate the building were drawn up in the 1970’s. A contractor was sent in to start work, using a caterpillar tractor, which was driven in on the ground floor, ruining the Wedgwood tiles.We at H & R Johnson (Stoke-on-Trent), were sent the drawings of the tile designs, and were asked to quote. I flew out to Sydney in December 1984 carrying samples and a section of the floor in a flat wooden box about a meter square (all hand baggage, which caused some consternation with the cabin crew. It was too delicate to place in the hold!). I met the architects, visited the building and gave them a quote, which in those days was around 1 million Australian Dollars.These tiles were all genuine handmade encaustic and geometric tiles. Soon after I left Sydney, a Japanese tile company quoted for the floor at about half our price. It turned out that these were not genuine encaustics, but a form of silk screened designs, which could be mass produced. It was unfortunate that price was more important than correct restoration.I was in Sydney again in 1988 and saw that the new tiles were already showing signs of wear. I wonder what they are like now?

The QVB is a wonderful building full of shops on several floors with the tiling on the balcony’s on each floor seeming to flow into the main design on the ground floor. I hope this anecdote might be of interest. Best wishes, David.”

David Malkin was the last Managing Director of Malkin Tiles. He then became Head of Public Relations for H&R Johnsons, Stoke-on-Trent, England when they bought his family company in 1968. David was a major influence on H&R Johnsons’ decision to re-start encaustic tile production in Stoke-on-Trent – in response to a series of prestigious and high value commission opportunities including the United States Capitol Building, The Smithsonian Institute (Washington DC) and The State Capitol, Albany, New York.

Thank you David! Thank you Adam!

Historypin | The Potteries Tile Trail