Rare Find: Ramsbury pottery pigs

The Far Side of the World

An Unexpected Find from Ramsbury

I was born in England and grew up in Ramsbury, a small village in Wiltshire. It’s a cosy, peaceful and friendly place, picture postcard perfect. In fact, it’s almost quintessentially English – a Saxon church, two pubs, rows of thatched houses looking out over the watermeadows. Until the 1970’s, it even had its own village pottery, producing high quality, handmade ceramics. The potter died a long time ago but you can still find examples of “Ramsbury ware” from time to time at car boot sales or in antique shops. While we lived there, my Mum and Dad had quite a collection of bowls, mugs, plates and ornaments.

However, at the end of last year, everything changed as my family and I left the UK and moved to Australia. As soon as we arrived, we all wanted to explore and get to know our new surroundings. Our original plan was to visit the museums, go to the beaches and make lots of new friends. However, before we could really get going, Covid 19 struck and we were all stuck indoors, unable to go anywhere or do anything or meet anyone. 

After several weeks of lockdown and home-schooling, restrictions were slowly lifted. My parents bought us new bikes and we’ve taken them out on many rides around our suburb and up and down the trails on Mt Coot-tha. Our latest trip however has been the most memorable. 

We had cycled from our house all the way to some Parklands, 16 kilometres along bikeways and through parks into the city centre. It was a gentle sunny day in the middle of winter – perfect for a still-acclimatising cyclist. We ate our picnic lunch in the Parklands surrounded by the water dragons making the most of the winter sun. There were also several ibises eyeing off our sandwiches!

Halfway back, somewhere near Red Hill, my Dad somehow got a stick caught in his rear wheel and ripped his derailleur clean off, causing the chain to jam. It was a mess! There was no way we could fix it on the side of the cycleway but, by chance, we were just next to a large op shop. My Mum loves to look around charity shops so it was decided that my Dad would take my sister and me home using Mum’s bike, and then come back with the car and rescue her and the broken bike.

The last few kilometres home were tough — every path seemed to be uphill and the sun was right in our eyes and beginning to set. We were all very relieved when we got home. Dad jumped straight in the car and drove back to the op shop.

Mum was waiting for him looking very pleased with herself. She showed him what she had bought and he could hardly believe it. There, on the counter of the very op shop next to which he had just happened to wreck his bike, ten thousand miles from home, was a Ramsbury Pottery piggybank. Even without the maker’s mark, we would all have recognised its distinctive Ramsbury colours and shape: a deep blue-green glaze, a slender snout with ears folded forward over the eyes. I would love to know its story. How had it got there? How long had it been waiting on the shelf for someone to buy it? What were the chances of my Mum being the one to walk past and recognise it? It now has pride of place on the sideboard in our dining room — a souvenir of our old home in the heart of our new one.

by James