The pottery becomes a factory

The shutdown of production led a group of workers, together with local capital interests, to establish a new ceramic business, Eie Steintøyfabrikk, at the opposite side of the bay. It started production in the autumn of 1862.

In 1863, Feyer initiated a subscription of shares with the purpose of transforming the pottery into a faience factory. The production would be based on resources and raw materials from England. To raise the money to start his new factory, Feyer sold his share in the world’s biggest titanium ore, which he had previously discovered in Sokndal, to an English company for £9000.

In 1865, the factory staff counted 50 workers. Test production of faience had begun. This time trained workers from the Rørstrand factories in Sweden were hired as mentors. Workers were also hired from England.

In the beginning, flint was imported from England, but only for a short period. The factory soon started making its own mixture based on English potter’s clay and kaolin, Danish flint and Norwegian quartz. The factory grew rapidly.

Illustrasjon - Egersunds Fayancefabriks Co. i 1875.

Illustration – Egersunds Fayancefabriks Co. in 1875.

In 1866, 70 people worked at the factory. At the of 1870, the number had risen to 164. Among these, 32 were women and 12 were children under the age of 15. In the 1880s, Egersunds Fayancefabrik had become the second largest industrial plant in Rogaland. The workforce had reached 200.

In the beginning, the production of faience was based on import, both of raw materials and models. Over time, the factory educated its own modellers and decorators. Through this, the factory established an independent production based on its own designs.

Feyer had spent large amounts of money on searching for metals and minerals. Among other things, he invested large sums in a company drilling for coal at Jæren. Egersunds Fayancefabrik went bankrupt in 1876. It was sold to a general partnership consisting of people from Stavanger and Egersund. Johan Feyer was offered the position as general manager, but declined. The position was then offered to his brother Christian M. Feyer, who accepted. Following the reorganisation, the factory was renamed Egersunds Fayancefabrik Co.

In 1883, the factory became a limited liability company (stock corporation) under the name A/S Egersunds Fayancefabriks Co. When the factory got new owners, they invested heavily in a mechanisation of operations. In 1881, a traction engine was installed to run the potter’s wheels. In 1885, a new stationary steam engine was installed to run the mills and deliver steam to the drying rooms, in addition to running the potter’s wheels. Production and sales grew steadily and in 1897 the factory employed 250 workers.

Illustrasjon - Egersunds Fayancefabriks Co. i 1884.

Illustration – Egersunds Fayancefabriks Co. in 1884.

Big upgrades were also made in regards to production. Products were constantly improved upon. The product range was expanded and new kinds of glaze tested. The factory took part in exhibitions both in Norway and abroad, winning prizes and gaining honourable mentions. In 1898, A/S Egersunds Fayancefabriks Co. took part in “Landsutstillingen og International Fiskeriudstilling” in Bergen. The factory won several awards for its products.

At the same time as the factory expanded its production and number of staff at the end of the century, several outlets for the factory’s products were established in Bergen and Oslo. Goods from the factory in Egersund were sold across the country. For customers in Troms and Finnmark, items were delivered with images of the Russian tsar-family and Russian inscriptions aimed at the Pomor trade.

In the first years of the twentieth century, the faience factory strengthened its position as the most important workplace in Egersund. The factory kept investing in new production equipment. In 1905, electric lighting was installed, along with engine operated shaping machines.


In 1905, the factory was struck by fire, turning large parts of the old wooden buildings into ashes. The newer brick buildings were salvaged. The same year, new plans were made for rebuilding and expanding the factory. New machines were purchased from England.

The best thing that has happened in the city's history is the factory burning in 1905.
Statement from a former worker at the factory [translated]

The reconstruction following the fire led to a strong improvement in hygiene at the factory. The old wooden buildings had been cleaned by sweeping the floors. This was far from adequate. The amount of clay dust in the air was extremely high. Nearly all those working with clay got silicosis and died young. Most died before turning 50. The new buildings were made so that they could be hosed with water. The water bound the clay dust to it at saved workers from breathing it in. In 1982, a worker said this about the fire: “The best thing that has happened in the city's history is the factory burning in 1905” [translated].