Belleek Int'l Collectors Society
United Kingdom Group

Belleek pottery
Convention 1997 Stoke on Trent England




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For 1997, The United Kingdom Collectors volunteered to organise our third international convention to be held in England. Stoke on Trent, the heart of the UK Ceramics industry was chosen as the venue. Many hours hard work went into the planning of this event and there are many modest unsung heroes who worked away diligently in the background to make a success of the first convention held outside the States. Everyone in the group was delighted with the strong support from not only America but the rest of the world as we gathered for a truly 'International Convention'. Even though this web page is created 15 years after the event, there are so many memories of the good times we had over four truly memorable days. Unfortunately, most images were taken before the advent of modern technology and are a bit hazy, but they still capture those magic moments we still hold close to our hearts 15 years later.


Work on our 1997 convention began four years earlier soon after the first convention organised by the Los Angeles chapter with the decision taken to hold our event in the heartland of the UK ceramics industry at Stoke on Trent. Stoke was chosen after canvassing Belleek Collectors around the world who expressed a preference for the capital of UK Ceramic production. A steering committee consisting of Marion Langham, Christine McCormack, Eddie Renshaw and Jan Golaszewski was formed. Our commitee then spent the next three plus years planning,writing, phoning, cajoling and fine tuning details to create a wonderful programme of events, entertainment and in true UK Group tradition, fine food at our three banquet dinners. Below... a true one off..specially commissioned pill box commemorating the 1997 Convention

Enamel convention Souvenir


Here we all are in 1994 at the convention venue in Stoke... Marion Lady Langham seated signing our contract with the hotel.

Lord Mayor Duggie Brown
Above left.. Lord Mayor Duggie Brown with Gretchen and Don Campbell..sorry Gretchen, you can't take him home! Right...our guest speaker for our Friday Gala Banquet was Eric Knowles from BBC Antiques Road Show

Greeting delegates when they arrived were UK Group members dressed as Mr and Mrs Armstrong, John Caldwell Bloomfield and David McBirney. The 1997 convention was officially opened on Thursday 11 September at 5.45. Along with Angela Moore our invited guest Doug Brown Lord Mayor of Stoke welcomed everyone to the convention. His speech follows "as Lord Mayor it gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to Stoke on Trent. We are very proud and honoured to have the 1997 International Belleek convention taking place here in the City. I am sure that during your stay you will experience the warmth and friendship that generates through the potteries (Max and Jean Norman from the Degenhardt chapter experienced this when a local restaurant owner personally returned them to the hotel after an evening out). you have taken a major step this year taking your convention out of the USA for the first time. we hope that this trend will continue and through contacts made this year future friendship links and partnerships can be followed through. Later that evening, the shopping malls opened which included dealer displays, a silent auction where delegate could bid for and buy pieces entered into the auction, Belleek pottery sale area and displays with John Doogan. Also opened on Thursday evening was the exhibition 'Belleek in all its Glory'. Never before and since has such a comprehensive collection of antique Belleek been brought together for everyone to enjoy. (The whole exhibition was filmed and released on video and later transferred to DVD.)

Above ...various flyers and brochures for events at the Convention


On Friday there were various talks in the main hall including a discussion by Bob Douglas on the emergence of the 'World Wide Web' and how it will change our collecting habits. We also had a delegates 'Bring and Tell' slide show. Later in the day, Katherine Gaertner was inducted as Belleek Honoree for 1997 r. Our after dinner speaker was Eric Knowles who appears on the BBC Antiques Roadshow. are all the Honorees who were able to come to the convention with Eric Knowles seated front right after Katherine's inaguration


The exhibition was a major event at our convention and it was a wonderful gathering of Belleek from UK and International Collections all in one place for everyone to enjoy. The idea was to display an example of everything that Belleek made in their early years. we did not fully succeed, but we did get a great representation of tea ware, vases, baskets and many other areas.

At the centre of our display was a 'Tea Garden'..a grotto filled with flowers and Tea Sets with Cabaret Trays with a back drop of a large hand painted cloth screen depicting the Belleek Pottery. There was also a major display of Belleek Earthyenware set in a traditional kitchen scene

Jan Golaszewski, our Chairman and Convention co-ordinator reminises.

"I can recall as if it was yesterday, the preparations for the exhibition room. There were a total of 50 lit display cabinets (each 1m x 0.5m) assembled in the Earl Granville Room. Those large glass cabinets had to be brought up from the ground floor in the lift and manouvered into place. Also, we boroowed large antique furniture and cabinets to create a natural environment to show off the many earthenware pieces that were brought along for display. Moving our exhibition display cabinets and furniture into position was a large and demanding task. Soon, members started arriveing by car and rail from across the UK with their boxes of rare and fascinating Belleek to unpack and create the biggest ever display of Belleek. Helping with the whole exhibition were UK members Ray Parsons, Brian Scott and Marion Langham.

I can still feel that energy and feeling of comradeship, anticipation and excitement as the cabinets began to fill with their display items. Before the exhibition opened, we all gathered to present Marion with some gifts and a toast to the success of the exhibition and convention. A real 'family' gathering" Below...some of the cabinets full of amazing Belleek

Exhibition Display
Earthenware Display
Dealer Pieces
below..some of the dealer displays of sale items
Dealer Pieces
Dealer Pieces
Dealer Pieces
Dealer pieces
Below...Maureen and Graham Munton deep in conversation
Maureen and Graham Munton

On Saturday we all gathered for a group photo then set out by coach in various groups to visit local potteries including Wedgwood, Spode and a visit to the Gladstone Pottery Museum. Later that evening our gala banquet entertainment was a show called Ar Drean presented by the Solent Set Dancers from Portsmouth. On Sunday morning an inter denominational morning service was held. This was followed by more delegate slides, then a talk on earthenware by UK Member and Belleek Author, Neville Maguire. Tony Fox also from the UK Group followed this with a discussion on Belleek Tea Ware. Tony was 'ambushed' during his talk by Angela Moore to present him with our very own UK Group honoree award for 1997. After lunch we all sat down to enjoy a victorian Tea Party play acted out in the form of a radio show by members of the UK Group. After this the closing address was given following with the traditional breaking of the Convention Plate mould. Our final gala banquet was held in the evening and everyone arrived in fancy dress. Below Lauressa and Liz Stillwell came as Belgian Hawkers complete with canes

Lauressa and Liz Stilwell

The convention fancy dress theme was 'Belleek in all its Glory' Top Left..Del Domke Top Right Gretchen and
Don Campell lower left..Commander Fred Gary tracking Belleek and right Jackie Howden from the UK Group
Above..some images from the convention, top left Jan Golaszewki top right, UK members Brian Henton and Christine Mccormack, lower left, UK Members Eddie and Liz Renshaw and Right, Brian Henton relaxing

Smash and Grab

Sunday...ceremonial breaking of the mould for the 1997 plate and below our last event was a play 'Victorian Tea Party'in the form of a 'Radio Broadcast'........... here are Maureen Munton,Brian Henton,Kathy Owen(Director and Producer)Colin Strong and Graham Munton

Radio Play Cast


Belleek Convention 1997....Some fascinating facts...

o Displays of UK Members’ non-Belleek collections and interests.
o Belleek making demonstrations.
o Silent Auction consisting of 200 pieces for sale of which 70% were successfully sold.
o Dealers’ Room with Antique Belleek for sale.
o Souvenir Photography in Period Dress.
o UK Members’ Board.
o UK Group’s History Board.
o Wants & Swaps Board.
o Shopping Mall : including Walkers Toffees, Sothebys Auction House, Aynsley wares, Belleek wares, book dealer, Mailpack Shippers, UK memorabilia sales.
o Birds Nest sculpture display.
o Victorian Tea Party short play.
o Talks given by Edward Bramah (Tea production), Tony Fox (Belleek tea ware), Neville Maguire (Belleek earthenware).
o Eric Knowles was the after dinner speaker on 13th September,
followed by Irish Dancing by the Solent Set Irish dance troupe.
o Dining room lavishly decorated with a different theme for each evening setting. Printed menus.
o Gala Dinner held in the Ball Room – Belleek fancy dress and a live band.
o Publications : Convention and Exhibition catalogues.

Main sponsors included the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Sothebys Auction House (raised £3,550).
Donations from the Seattle Convention, Northern Ireland Group and Dogwood Chapter (totalled £1,197).
Delegate’s Registration fee was £145.
Group’s ‘Convention dress-rehearsal’ took place on 17th August, 1997.
258 paid up Convention attendees from afar as USA, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland and UK.

Total cost of the Convention was £55,606.




Following the convention, the UK group received many letters of appreciation.

Here are extracts from some received.

'Well done UK Group  -  the Convention was an outstanding success!!!  We all had a great time and appreciate the massive amount of work that went into the planning. The meals and tours were excellent'.

Helen and Trevor Rankin
and the Northern Ireland Belleek Collectors Group.

'You did a fantastic job on the Convention, we enjoyed every minute'.

Bill and Evelyn Twiss


Three weeks ago today we left the Moat House and we're still excited about the wonderful time we had at the Belleek Convention. The decorating for each of the three dinners was exceptional. How festive each night was.
We do cherish the Lotus Blossom Vase we were awarded for our 'costumes'.
Most of all, we value the new friends we made at the Convention, as well as renewing friendships from previous Belleek fun times'.
Thanks and regards,
Jeanne Chartier

'What a memorable experience it was to have been delegates to the 1997 Convention. We enjoyed every minute spent with old and new friends and surrounded by such a spectacular display of Belleek. Please accept our gratitude and a well deserved thank you'.

Suzanne and Gene Krach

'To the UK group, applause, applause for a wonderful convention. You made it so interesting and so memorable. I loved the auction, the Potteries and the after-dinner speaker. Your exhition hall was gorgeous - thank you to all'.

Yours truly
Joan Crowe

'Hi we want to pass on our appreciation for such a great convention'.
We had such a great time

Max and Jean Norman

'It was great to meet all at the convention. We did enjoy ourselves very much and met so many nice people. We still talk about it'.

Dave and Phyllis Clark

'Thank you for all the long hours and hard work you did to make the 1997 Convention such a success. We all enjoyed it so much and think it was outstanding'.

Dorothy and Maurice Wheeler

'Our deepest and heartfelt gratitude go out to all of you for the wonderful hospitality...this was our first trip to England and Ireland and will remain special to us'

Mike and Chris Smith

'Dear Lady Marion I want to congratulate you and the UK members on a wonderful convention. I'll never get over the lovely display of Belleek which was a once in a lifetime experience'

Delight Svacina

'On behalf of the San Diego Chapter I would like to thank you, Marion, Jan and Christine as well as the entire UK team. It was an outstanding programme and the planning, co-ordination and very hard work was appreciated by San Diego members who attended'.

George Unzelman

And finally....

If you were there...Thank you for  attending and making 1997 such a special year for the UK Group

The Uk Group would like to thank every one involved with the Convention
there are too many names to mention individually
but we would like to especially acknowledge here the endless assistance,
good-will and support from the Stoke-on-Trent City Council.








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