… My relationship with ceramics goes back to childhood. I remember running about among those wood-fired pottery kilns in my grandfather’s ceramics factory.
My grandfather, curiously, was born in the González ceramics factory in 1907 (in the working-class neighbourhood of Manises). His father (my great grandfather) was the landlord of that large factory and lived in the home located on-site.
In 1950, José María Ajenjo Reyes (my grandfather) purchased the Miramar factory …
THE MIRAMAR FACTORY (history)
In 1786, a silk dealer, Vicente Morera Crespo, financed the setting up of an industrial pottery. Its importance is attested to in a report which the City of Valencia’s Real Junta de Comercio (Royal Board of Trade) sent to the Real Junta General de Comercio, Moneda y Minas (Royal General Board of Trade, Currency and Mines) in Madrid, on 29 April 1800. Taking advantage of its mission to report on the suitability of extending the franchises that the Alcora factory owned by the Duke of Híjar enjoyed, the report stressed the need to extend such privileges so that other fine-china factories in the “Kingdom of Valencia” – which were making exceptional efforts to improve their production, such as the case of the Morera factory, a manufacturer whose merits the report extolled – would not “become demoralised in their development”.
Factories existed in Onda, Ribesalbes, Bechí, Biar and Manises, although:
… Among all of these, the factory established at Manises is particularly distinguished, situated one league from this city. Thereby, due to its proximity, it is the one that provides the capital with every class of pottery, both earthenware and fine china. This village has around thirty factories producing earthenware for the common use of the poor under the management of the same number of masters who work personally on site. This branch of industry provides employment to hundreds of families in the aforementioned village and its environs.
Mr Vicente Morera of the trade who was of this city proposed the establishment of a fine-china pottery similar to the Alcora one, in this same village in 1786, as he deemed that the quality of its clays were not inferior to those of the Alcora factory, and he quickly achieved a regular perfection, both in fine china and in the branch of gilded panels for apartments, which merited the appreciation of HM (His Majesty) to such a degree that in His (Royal) Palace he ordered an apartment of this type to be installed …
This was doubtless the factory known as “de Morera” (from Morera) which, according to Rafael Valls, was purchased in the early nineteenth century by Miguel Royo García, who “transformed [it] into a spacious factory warehouse”. This same Royo also purchased an old tile works located in Valencia’s calle Ruzafa in 1799, and in the first few decades of this century, turned it into one of the capital’s most prosperous tile factories.
Well-placed between the Valencian bourgeoisie and established potteries in Manises, and manufacturing ceramics of the highest quality, it is no surprise that from 1787 onwards, this pottery of Vicente Morera’s, initially, and later Miguel Royo’s, unseated the other Manises potteries and secured its standing as the new pottery supplier which Valencia’s General Hospital required.
Vicente Morera’s (later Miguel Royo’s) pottery was located, as were most Manises potteries up to the late nineteenth century, in the Obradors neighbourhood. It is highly probable that it was the pottery we know today as the “Miramar Factory” (situated in the square of the same name). This was an emblematic building (due to its turret or miramar) within this district. It boasts several architectural details that chronologically suit this hypothesis, as well as being the only one that matches Rafael Valls David’s reference of having been “transformed into a spacious factory warehouse” by Miguel Royo in the early nineteenth century. On the ground floor, the original paving is a highlight. It is formed of a Neo-Classical border with a background of scattered flowers, all in polychrome, the chronology of which we can date due to its similarity with other pieces at around 1810. As has been noted, these two first chinaware potteries created in Manises were promoted by investors, businessmen and industrialists from the neighbouring capital, of which Vicente Morera’s stands out because as well as pottery, it also seemed to manufacture high-quality tiles (“gilded panels”) for paving, as can be deduced from the comment appearing in the aforementioned report:
“merited the appreciation of HM (His Majesty) to such a degree that in His (Royal) Palace he ordered an apartment of this type to be installed”. This is the first documentary reference that exists on tile manufacturing in Manises after a parenthesis of approximately 250 years.
The Manises Tile Industry (1800–1940) Josep Pérez Camps. Director, Manises Ceramics Museum.