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Troika Pottery - St Ives and Newlyn - 1963 - 1983
Troika Marks Troika Designs Background Dating Troika  


  Wheal Dream is near Porthgwidden beach in St Ives. It is now the St Ives Museum. Troika was on the ground floor having taken over the Powell and Wells Pottery in 1963.

  Fragden Place is not far from the old Newlyn harbour. Troika moved here in 1970 when forced to leave Wheal Dream in St Ives. 

St Ives - 1963 to 1970

Troika was set up in 1963 by Benny Sirota, Leslie Illsley and Jan Thomson. Jan Thomson was bought out in 1965. Benny Sirota had some experience of potting and Leslie Illsley had trained as a sculptor and had experience of making moulds. Leslie concentrated on the design of moulded pieces and Benny experimented with surface textures and glazes. This unique combination led to the development of the smooth glossy finishes and the rich textured surfaces for which Troika pottery is now famous.

The first pieces produced were blanks left over from Wells - tiles and doorknobs. Very soon pieces such as teapots, coffee sets and mugs were produced using master moulds made by Leslie from originals thrown by Benny. Leslie also designed floor and wall tiles.

Benny and Leslie established a relationship with the shop Heals in London. This provided a steady stream of orders (notably the double egg cup and the square ashtray) lasting until 1978.

The Wheal Dream site was eventually bought by the St Ives Council and Troika was forced to move out in 1970.

Newlyn - 1970 to 1983 
  Benny and Leslie bought an old salting house in Fragden Place, Newlyn which they had to renovate. The larger premises enabled production to be increased. Orders boomed and more staff were taken on to handle the work. The Coffin Vase was introduced at this time and proved to be very popular.

Benny took a lesser role in running the business and eventually left in 1980.

The loss of the Heals business and declining sales in the late seventies and early eighties led to Leslie having to close Troika in 1983. 
Further Reading

More detailed information about Troika Pottery can be found in the following books:

Troika Pottery St Ives by Carol Cashmore, 1994.

Troika Ceramics of Cornwall by George Perrott, 2003 - published by Gemini Publications, Bath, England - telephone 01225 484877.

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