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Cox's Cave Cheddar -  Souvenir China.

by Dave Irwin

As a bit of a change from J Rat’s reports on his various digs and discoveries, interesting though they are, I thought, it might be appropriate to show the more unusual side of collecting cave stuff.  Most cavers collect something, if only a few guide books.  Others accumulate masses of books, surveys and general booklets published by the show caves.  Little known to most are the pieces of china and pottery that have been sold by the show cave souvenir shops over the years.  Items from the late 19th and early 20th century are now very scarce, if not rare.  From the Somerset show caves several items have been found but the most common are the decorative items sold by Cox’s Cave management before the lease with the Longleat Estate ended in March 1939.  Similar items are known made for Gough’s Cave.

The Transfer (45mm x 30mm).

The items are similar to the Crested China products manufactured by the Goss and Arcadian companies and are now fast becoming collector’s items.  The Longton, Staffordshire, based company, Grafton, also produced this type of ware some of which is of interest to a caver.  These are souvenir pieces produced specifically for Cox s Cave at Cheddar.  The company produced an enormous selection of china boxes, trays, animals, militaria and other designs including a china Cheddar cheese!  To all of these items, and there are many hundreds of designs, a crest of a city or town was placed on the side of the object and sold widely throughout the country.  For Cox s Cave Grafton produced a transfer of the Transformation Scene which was attached to the object.  Exact dates are not known but it is thought that most were produced in the 1920s. 

Fig. 1



The illustrations are all that have been recorded many of which are in the collections of J Rat, Pete Rose and the writer.

Figure details:

Fig. 1: Ivy Leaf pin box (45mm diameter)

Fig. 2: Cheddar Cheese (55mm diameter)

Fig. 3: Pouring vessel (7Smm long)

Fig. 4: Cheese Dish (60mm x 50mm)

Fig. 5: Circular pin box (45mm diameter)

Fig. 6: Fluted vase (55mm high)

Fig. 7: Oval pin box (50mm x 30mm)

Fig. 8: Fluted box (60mm x 50mm)

Fig. 9: Rectangular pin box (40mm x 30mm)

Fig. 10: Scent bottle (60mm x 80mm high)

Fig. 11: Small plate (170mm diameter)

Fig. 12: Calf (100mm x 75mm)

Fig. 13: Frog (dimensions not known)

Fig. 14: Fish (100mm x 75mm)

Fig. 15: Valentine pin box (60mm x 50mm)

Fig. 16: Basket (100mm x 75mm high)

Fig. 17: Pin tray (60mm diameter)