20th Century Tiles

Guidance on cleaning, paint stripping and removal of damaged tiles can be found on the Victorian and Edwardian tile page.

A brief history

A detail of the architectural scheme designed by Sir Owen Williams in the Boots’ D6 Building in NottinghamshireTwentieth century historic tiles would include the domestic geometric floor, found in Edwardian villas, along with art nouveau fireplace and entrance hall tiles. Shopping arcades and department stores also used wall tile art to great advantage in the early twentieth century, much of it still extant but buried under layers of modern shop fittings.

Art deco style tiling became popular in the 1930s when many architects were favouring tiles as a medium to express the simplicity of geometrical form and function.

Finally, following decades of neglect, the recognition of how valuable and sometimes brilliant the extraordinary amount of tile ‘art in architecture’ which flourished as a cheap form of decoration to post war building in the nineteen fifties and sixties has come to pass. Many of these, sometimes very large, examples of tile mural art are of high quality design and manufacture, they represent the flowering of British modern art and design of that period and also the last examples of high quality craftsman tile manufacture in this country before cheaper technologies and production methods took over the industry.

There are many examples of this exciting public art extant in our shopping precincts, schools and offices nationwide, usually under the ownership of local authorities.

Redevelopment of public areas remains a major threat to these art works, but with careful and sympathetic design and planning they can and often do become part of exciting and modern visual design.

Practical guidance on simple conservation issues.

The information on these pages is for guidance only we do not accept responsibility as a result of any person carrying out any works according to the advice contained in this web site. Always follow Health and Safety measures described on products, tools and materials. Jackfield Conservation Studio is not responsible for the work which you do, the responsibility is yours and yours alone!

Detail of  ‘Literature’ tile panel, Sunderland Art GalleryMuch of the advice found on the Victorian and Edwardian tile page can be applied to the early twentieth century range of tile products. Please refer to that page for simple conservation and maintenance advice.

However, large scale murals or public art pieces must have the benefit of a complete consultation report. Please contact us directly.