The TACS Location Database Project
The Tiles and Architectural Ceramics Society is a registered charity founded in 1981. It is the national society responsible for the study and protection of tiles and architectural ceramics. The Location Database Project entailed collecting details on a wide variety of in situ ceramic locations, including the Mountain Daisy Pub in Sunderland, a superb example of tiles and faience produced by the firm Craven Dunnill of Jackfield, in the Ironbridge Gorge, in 1902.
Locations varied from medieval tile pavements to contemporary installations such as the Armada underpass in Plymouth (1990), above, and the ceramic works created by Adam Kossowski at the Friars, Aylesford, Kent between 1950 and 1971, one part of which is shown below.
Of course, many locations dated from the Victorian period, and churches were especially prominent. There were many fine encaustic tile pavements as well as glazed tile wall decorations and opus sectile work, the latter generally produced by Powell’s of Whitefriars. These examples (clockwise starting top left) are from churches in Eastbourne, London, Bicton (Devon) and Church Leigh (Staffordshire).
The geographical range of the project encompassed England – including Lundy Island and the Isle of Man, shown here – Scotland and Wales. Unusual locations included tiles by Carter’s of Poole under water in the Tyne Pedestrian and Cycle Tunnels, completed in 1951 and crossing beneath the River Tyne east of Newcastle upon Tyne.
Locations with notable architectural ceramics include the rich terracotta (manufactured by J. C. Edwards of Ruabon) of the late Victorian Cardiff Pierhead building, built as offices for the Bute Dock Company and now the information centre for the Welsh Assembly. This building is clearly much loved, its ceramics well cared for, in contrast to the 1903 pictorial panel of Cardiff Castle at the nearby Golden Cross pub, bottom right, obscured by posters!
The importance of the TACS Location Database in relation to long-term conservation issues is illustrated by the fact that even during the course of the project the two buildings shown here were demolished: the Elephant and Castle, Wolverhampton, with faience (including the elephant) by Burmantofts, the Leeds Fireclay Company, and the Poole Pottery itself (below).
The illustrated, updated version of the TACS Location Database may be viewed on the TACS website at
The database now contains over 5,000 entries, and the TACS Gazetteer, detailing the most important and interesting in situ ceramic sites throughout the country, is due to be published in spring 2005.