Orkney’s charity shops are treasure troves. Particular favourites are local souvenirs from the 1960s and 1970s: plates, bowls and trinkets advertising holiday destinations in Orkney, referencing a time when ‘staycationing’ was still the norm.
Many of the plates bear the stamp of the Liverpool Road pottery in Stoke-on-Trent, who specialised in – amongst other products – ornamental giftware and advertising ware. They ceased trading around 1976.
They mass-produced items with generic images, the only variation being the transfer-printed place name. A plate from Papa Westray shows a very English hunting scene, complete with horses and hounds in chase, a sight as unlikely as blue tits on Eday or a red deer stag in Kirkwall.
Other popular items were examples of ‘Manor Ware’, souvenirs made from cast plaster, such as miniature teapots and eggtimers.
These were either painted or transfer-printed with different place names for sale in tourist shops across the country. Manor Ware sold well throughout the 1960s and 1970s, but the arrival of cheap imports and changing holiday habits took their toll and the company finally ceased trading in 1987.
Although advertising very local places, these wonderfully generic artefacts reference much broader social and economic trends on a national and international scale. Together they show a snapshot of changing holiday habits, attachments to place and economies of mass production. The 2 or 3 decades over which these souvenirs were made and sold saw great changes both in the fortunes of British manufacturing and British holidaying habits. By the late 1970s, English pottery manufacture was in decline and people were eschewing local breaks in favour of package holidays to warmer climes. Later souvenirs still claim to be ‘a present from Orkney’, but are now stamped ‘foreign’.