Doultons Leslie Harradine was a supremely talented ceramic artist and potter.
Born Arthur (Leslie) Harradine (1887-1965), Leslie was one of Royal Doulton’s premier and most prolific modellers producing superb figures from 1920 until the mid 1950s.
Leslie Harradine started as an apprentice at Doultons Lambeth factory in London in 1902.
He worked under George Tinworth and studied part-time at the Camberwell School of Arts. He went on to qualify and work in the Royal Doulton design department.
His main interest lay in clay sculpture and the design of free standing figures and he produced several prototypes which drew the attention of Charles Noke the Royal Doulton art director.
During his tenure he designed various Doulton character jugs, figures, animals and vases.
In 1912 Leslie Harradine left the Royal Doulton studios to emigrate to Canada with his brother where they purchased land and tried to build a 4000 acre farm.
The location was isolated, the soil was poor and the work was hard but Leslie enjoyed the life and managed to make a simple living from it.
During the little spare time he had, he painted and made models from clay deposits.
In 1916 the Harradine brothers left Canada and joined the British army to fight the great war in France.
But Leslie was injured when his horse was shot from under him and he then spent a long spell in hospital back in England.
While there he met his future wife. They married and a little while later Leslie became a father.
He returned to Canada but this did not seem to him to be a suitable place for his wife and child so following the war Leslie passed his half of the farm to his brother and settled in Bedfordshire doing bits and pieces of painting and modelling.
His dream, once again, was to open a small ceramics studio in London.
Leslie Harradine had not been back in England long when Doultons Charles Noke got to hear about him and set up a meeting.
Noke offered Leslie a job as a figure designer at the Burslem works but he refused.
Leslie had grown to like his independence and wanted to work only for himself. He did, however, eventually agree to send Noke some samples of his models on a freelance basis.
In 1920, the first Leslie Harradine Royal Doulton figure, ‘HN 395 Contentment’ was released.
Leslie Harradine provided a regular supply of figures to Royal Doulton for almost forty years but always on a truly freelance basis,
Leslie would be the one to decide what he would model and when, and he would send these three at a time, on a monthly basis to the Burslem works.
It is said that the other Doulton artists, designers and painters would all gather round eagerly when his monthly shipment was unpacked to see what he had come up with this time.
Many hugely popular models flowed from his small home studio including ‘Polly Peacham‘ and other figures from his rendition of The Beggars Opera. Others included;
- "The Balloon Seller" and "Flower Sellers Children" from the London street sellers series.
- The Dickens series, which was a particular favourite of Charles Noke’s.
- and, of course, the slightly risque models of "The Bather" both swimsuit clad and nude.
Leslie Harradine loved children and would often display his self taught conjuring skills for their amusement.
He produced a series of "Child Studies" which were almost old fashioned in their conception and portrayal but they proved to be very popular with the buying public and stayed in production for many years.
Other models, such as "The Rocking Horse" only stayed in production for a year or two and will be quite rare.
Yet another series of child studies, called the ‘Nursery Rhyme Series‘, bore a strong similarity to the work of Freda Doughty at Royal Worcester.
These were equally popular and also stayed in production for many years.
Leslie Harradine eventually moved to Sark, a small member of the Channel Islands where no cars are allowed and continued his modelling career from there.
His new creations would be shipped to the mainland and then on to the Potteries as before.
Continuing until the late 1950’s when he eventually informed Royal Doulton of his intention to retire.
The last Leslie Harradine figure to be released was ‘HN 2175 The Beggar‘ which was a second version of the Beggars Opera series. This was released in 1956.
Another model, ‘The Apple Maid’ was released in 1957 but this bore an earlier number of HN 2160 and had presumably been modelled slightly earlier and just taken longer to produce.
In 1961 Leslie Harradine moved to Spain … where he lived while modelling local peasants in terracotta pottery until his death in 1965.