Rob Watson prize winning potter

Rob Watson became a potter in the 1980s

When Rob Watson decided to become a potter in the 1980s, things did not go well. His idea was to make functional pots for local people. Unfortunately, he lived in Co Durham, and with local industries in the throes of painful change, there seemed little hope of making a living, let alone becoming a prize winning potter.  So Rob took a job in the Civil Service.

Rob Watson unloading his kiln

Rob Watson unloading his kiln

But, crucially, Rob did not give up on his dream. He put a wheel and kiln in his garden shed; he made pots at every opportunity; and at weekends, he took them out to sell at shows.  He studied, he learned, and he developed his experience.

Twice prizewinner

And, as decades went by, Rob’s reputation grew. He made solid, serviceable pottery, colourfully decorated in his own inimitable style. He stuck to his dream, he stuck to his style, and now, Rob is the only person to have twice won the Potfest/Craft&Design Award – this year on a theme of ‘Lamps, Lanterns and Candelabras’.


He says, “You can’t follow fashion. Someone might say, a particular style is selling loads now – I’ll make some.’ Six months later, they’ve made loads, they can’t sell it, and they’re not doing what they want.”

Pleasure in pots

bowls by Rob Watson

bowls by Rob Watson

It’s not just for his own pleasure: he wants customers to enjoy his work too, and says, “I like people taking pleasure from using it.”


And, despite having been decades in the business, Rob still bursts with new ideas, and it’s still a thrill to open the kiln and see how the work has come out.



Read more about Rob – and lots of other potters – in Craft&Design Magazine, July/August 2015


See Rob’s website at


About Helen Johnson

Freelance writer specialising in Yorkshire's history and heritage.

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