The Walker Family Ceramic History
The Walker name has been synonymous with ceramics in Victoria for more than one hundred years. When Edgar E. Walker founded and later owned the Australian Tessellated Tile Company in Mitcham in 1885, he began a family tradition in clay which continues today, four generations later, with Walker Ceramics at Croydon (Victoria, Australia). The family commitment to fine quality clay manufacture began with Edgar E. Walker, his four sons and grandson, Geoffrey Walker.
They established the tile company which was, at one time, the largest tile producing plant in the Southern Hemisphere. Importantly, it had also always supplied Technical Colleges and potters with fine quality clays, glazes and ceramic materials.
The management and staff gather to welcome home Edgar E. Walker from one of his overseas trips in 1923.
Walker Ceramics was established in 1955 by Geoffrey and Constance Walker. Geoffrey studied ceramics in the years before and after the Second World War at Stoke Technical College and later worked in the UK and USA before building the factory in Wantirna. Production began with glazed porcelain functional ware, then specialized floor tiles, electrical and acid-proof porcelains and salt glazed tiles. Despite a fire which destroyed the factory, the company went on to produce stoneware and porcelain bodies, often to potter's own specifications.
During the 1960's, Walker Ceramics
manufactured its first filter pressed white earthenware bodies for commercial potteries and art
suppliers. During this time, the Walker Ceramics' factory at Wantirna had become not only a
place to source an increasing range of ceramic supplies and quality clay bodies
and glazes, but a busy and lively meeting place for potters exchanging
By the mid 1970's more than 25 bodies were being
produced and the market had expanded interstate and to New Zealand. In the
1980's Walker Ceramics in association with Greg Daly, produced the first
series of instructional video tapes, detailing many different ceramic techniques
presented in Greg's workshops. In 1982 David Walker completed an Honours degree
in Ceramic Technology from North Staffordshire Polytechnic in
Stoke-on-Trent (UK) and returned to Australia to join the business.
they produce and sell in excess of 60 Ceramic bodies , 200
plus glazes , Liquid Opaque
Underglazes, Design Colour Concentrates and all the tools and equipment the
pottery market requires. As well as their own shop in Canberra the distribution network extends to all major centre's of Australia and Singapore,
Indonesia and the United Kingdom - where the pottery community are appreciating
the specialist qualities of Australian made and developed ceramic bodies, glazes
When Walker Ceramics moved to the Wedgwood factory in Croydon in 1988, they completely re-built and enlarged the clay production facility established at Wantirna. A new laboratory was equipped and specialist staff were trained for Research and Development and quality control. This began at the clay pits with testing and stockpiling and continued in the laboratory. All clays are continuously checked in the laboratory for plasticity, colour, shrinkage and porosity by gradient furnace firing and most importantly, the testing of bodies for expansion standards to ensure the matching of glazes.
In 2005 David Walker was approached by John Feeney of Sandisons in Queensland with an offer to continue the Feeney Clay tradition. A new company called Feeneys Clay was started then moved from the Wulkuraka site, completely re-furbished and upgraded and established in a "new" factory at West Ipswich.
business then went under further changes in 2008 - David Walker decided to
continue the Walker tradition in Ceramics and purchased Walker Ceramics outright.
A new manufacturing facility was set up for all
the Walker White bodies when the business moved from Lusher Rd in Croydon. When
the Sales and distribution factory was established in Croydon South the
traditional fireclay based bodies were reformulated to be made at the new Feeneys
Clay plant in West Ipswich Queensland. This range is now out in the
marketplace and already gaining loyal support.
Between 1977 and 1996 Walker Ceramics presented a Walker Ceramic Award annually to Graduating Ceramics students from around Australia. This was exhibited at the prestigious Victorian Arts Centre from December to January each year and enabled the students to have an opportunity to exhibit their talents to a broad range of public from throughout Australia and overseas. The Walker Ceramic Award Collection of all the winners and carefully selected pieces from each years exhibition were on permanent display in the Walker ceramic Gallery in Croydon, Victoria until 2008 when David Walker put the entire collection on Permanent Loan to Manningham Art Gallery in Doncaster. This enables ceramists, students and the public at large to view this wonderful collection in this public space.