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North Devon in 100 Objects: 62. A Lauder and Smith Brick

A Lauder and Smith brick.

This Lauder and Smith brick represents the life and work of Alexander Lauder (1836-1921), architect, potter, teacher, Methodist and Mayor of Barnstaple.

Alexander Lauder (1836-1921) was the son of a lime merchant who trained as an architect in Scotland.  Most of his surviving buildings are Wesleyan Chapels and schools – he designed at least a dozen.  His most obvious local building is the Gliddon and Squires building in Tuly Street which includes modelled terracotta friezes.

Lauder created ornamental bricks, as well as plain ones like this, at his pottery in the Pottington Road, started with his brother-in-law, William Otter Smith, in 1876. He soon began to direct his attention to Art Pottery, beginning with pots, vases, and baskets for the conservatory.

Of the three Art Potters, Lauder’s output was very much the smallest, but he seems to have been the first to try out new design ideas, which were then taken up by the more commercial Brannam pottery. The pottery continued until 1914.

Lauder’s other great contributions to Barnstaple were in serving the town as a Liberal politican, and in the Wesleyan Church. He was Chairman of the Barnstaple School Board for many years, and a very popular Mayor in 1885 and 1887. He also organised and supervised the Art Classes at the Literary and Scientific Institution, where two of his early students were potter Charles Brannam and architect William Lethaby. Lethaby later joined him in his architect’s practice as the first step in a very significant career.

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