Obituary: Ken Allen, co-founder of North Walsham’s Cat Pottery

Ken Allen with some of his glass sculptures. Date: 25 Oct 1990.

Ken Allen with some of his glass sculptures. Date: 25 Oct 1990. - Credit: EDP Library

Ken Allen created a pottery business in North Walsham, with his wife, which became one of the town's best known and longest-established businesses.

London-born Mr Allen, who has died aged 83, moved to the town with his wife in late 1964 and bought a derelict tinsmith's and stables on Grammar School Road which became the Cat Pottery.

He had switched to pottery in the early 1950s after starting his career as an industrial chemist, working with companies including Glaxo.

Not only did he dislike working as a chemist, but he saw that there was a post-war market for pottery items such as lamp standards.

Mr Allen met his wife, Jenny Winstanley, who died in 2004, when she applied for a job at his pottery. She had studied sculpture in Kingston.

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The couple began making cats in 1958 and it became the item for which they were best known, although in recent years about one third of the business's output has been hares.

Originally known as Kensington pots, they later changed the branding on their pottery to Winstanley, Mrs Allen's distinctive maiden name. The Cat Pottery sells mostly to wholesalers and also exports to the USA, France and Italy, and it has gained a worldwide reputation among collectors.

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During its heyday, in the 1990s, the pottery employed five staff and had a second factory on the town's Midland Road. But the fashion for minimalism, coinciding with the dawning of the 21st-century, hit the business and led to the closure of many of the shops which The Cat Pottery had supplied.

The couple's oldest son Nick has been running the pottery for several years and production will continue into the future, using some 450 different pottery moulds.

Mr Allen was keen on amateur dramatics and had been a member of North Walsham's former Gallery Players. He also leaves a younger son, Roger, and two grandchildren. His funeral will be held in Witton Church on Wednesday November 27 at 10.30am and the family has invited anyone who knew Mr Allen to join them there.

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