In 1759 Josiah Wedgwood set up in Burslem, Staffordshire his own pottery works. Because of high quality of his cream earthenware, Josiah Wedgwood was soon appointed as royal supplier of dinnerware. After 10 years from starting his own business, he was able to construct his own village and factory named Etruria. It was equipped in tools and ovens of his own design. He concentrated there entire production.
Josiah Wedgwood had a business partner in Etruria venture, Thomas Bentley. He was a Liverpool merchant who managed also Wedgwood London showrooms.
The most famous of Josiah's inventions was jasperware, which first appeared in 1774 after thousands of experiments. An unglazed vitreous fine stoneware, it was made in blue, green, lilac, yellow, black or white; sometimes one piece combined three or more of these colours.
Josiah also created Black Basalt, a fine black porcelain, which enabled him to produce copies of the newly excavated Etruscan pottery from Italy. Another invention was the pyrometer, a device for measuring higher degrees of heat in kilns.
In 1790 Wedgwood’s sons and his nephew joined the partnership. Josiah Wedgwood died in 1795.
The 19th century saw starting manufacturing of bone china and coloured earthenware. The company was still managed by Wedgwood family.
In 1940 Josiah Wedgwood & Sons Ltd became a public company. In 1950 in the area of the Barlaston Hall estate bought in 1937, started production a new factory, which was the company's main manufacturing base in the United Kingdom until 2008. In 1966 company was restructured and renamed to Josiah Wedgwood Ltd. A new holding was to be able to manage various businesses within the Wedgwood Group.
In 1960s Wedgwood was leading the industry consolidation. Wedgwood bought Johnson Bros and rights to the Adams, Tuscan, Royal Tuscan, Susie Cooper, Coalport, Foley, Johnson Bros, Meakin, Midwinter, Shorter, Clarice Cliff and Mason names. In 1980 was aquired Enoch Wedgwood (Tunstall) Ltd with rown Ducal and Furnivals brands.
After the friendly takeover in 1986 by Irish Waterford Crystal Ltd, in 1989 was formated a new holding company Waterford Wedgwood plc. After overcoming problems and returning to profitability, the new holding acquired in 1990 a crystal glass manufacturer Stuart & Sons Ltd. In 1997 and 1998 Waterford Wedgwood bought 85% stake in Rosenthal A. G. of Selb, Germany and continued acquisitions with All-Clad and Hutschenreuther. In years 2003 to 2005 Waterford Wedgwood acquired its rival Royal Doulton and Doulton, Mintons and Royal Albert brands.
These last acquisitions ruined already not easy company's situation. In the beggining of 2009 Waterford Wedgwood plc went bankrupt. Its assets had been sold to the US private equity company KPS Capital Partners.