Reginald George Haggar - A Staffordshire Legend by Keith Potts
REGINALD GEORGE HAGGAR (1905-1988) - a Staffordshire legend
Artist, teacher, art and ceramic historian and chronicler of the Staffordshire Potteries.
Founder of the Society of Staffordshire Artists and the Northern Ceramic Society.
Reginald Haggar was born in Ipswich, Suffolk in 1905. He studied at the local art school where the focus was on drawing and illustration and he admired the works of Turner, Constable, John Sell Cotman and Rembrandt. From Ipswich, after winning a Royal exhibition for pictorial design he studied at the Royal College of Art.
In 1929 he came to Stoke-on-Trent as an Assistant Designer at Mintons - a major pottery manufacturer. He later said upon arrival he nearly took the next train back to London but confessed 'I didn't. I stayed for nearly 50 years and came to love the place.' After only six months, at the age of 25, he was promoted to Art Director. However his modern art deco designs were not in keeping with traditional Minton ware and he resigned in 1935.
In 1934 he was appointed Head of Stoke School of Art a post he held until 1941. He then moved across the City and became Head of the Burslem School of Art. In 1945 he made a bold decision and resigned in order go freelance and devote more time to his own painting and to his research and writing on the history of art and English pottery.
In 1961 tragedy hit the Haggars when they were hit by a car when crossing the road at Trentham. Dorothy, whom Reginald had married in 1932, only narrowly survived.
Initially his painting style was tight but it became looser over time. His watercolours, all executed outside, captured the end of an era in the Staffordshire Potteries. Most of the old bottle ovens and pottery factories are now demolished. His paintings are in fact a unique record of the decline of a major industry which once employed 60,000 people. Together with many wonderful views of the North Staffordshire countryside painted throughout the year they are a fitting tribute to the master watercolourist.
His list of publications was immense including 24 books, two encyclopedias (on English Pottery and Continental Pottery), a dictionary of art terms and four hundred articles. He was the complete expert in his field and it was a real privilege to attend his wonderful lectures on the history of art and ceramic history.
The Haggars later retired to the Isle of Man but came back to Staffordshire to live in the Wetley Abbey nursing home, coincidentally once the home of master potter Miles Mason about whom Haggar had researched and published.
The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery hold his notebooks and several of his works.
The Reginald Haggar Lecture has been held every year in November - initially at the Potteries Museum but now at Keele University. In 2020 the presentation was on-line and can be accessed through You Tube.
'Reginald Haggar: the man and his work' on line lecture Keele University 20 November 2020 - You Tube