Newclay Products Limited has been manufacturing art and craft materials for over forty years. The company was established during the 1960s by the Lewis family, who continued to manage the business until November 2006.
It is not possible to determine exactly when the business started as it was born out of the Lewis’s involvement in teaching of arts and crafts, identification of the shortcomings of the modelling materials available at the time, and gradual development of the products required to fill the identified gaps in the market.
Newclay the modelling clay was formulated to create a material that dried to a hard and tough finish, and to be an ideal material for children to make models with, eliminating the complications involved with firing and glazing traditional pottery materials. Development of Hardeners H1 and H2, Newclay Gloss, Newclay Satin, Newclay Modelling Wire, and a number of other products, soon followed and Newclay Products Limited was established – in a garden shed in Chislehurst!
Increasing sales soon resulted in a need for more suitable premises, in the form of a three storey shop and house with basement in the Crystal Palace area of London, occupied in 1967. More equipment was purchased and installed, and a number of educational suppliers included Newclay products in their catalogues – a considerable breakthrough for the business. Demand for products also came from some unexpected sources, such as a range of packs for dry and silk flower arrangements in a variety of colours.
In 1974 the council wanted to develop the site so alternative premises were required. With nothing suitable in the district, it was decided to move to Devon to be nearer the source of raw materials, thereby cutting the carriage costs. The manufacturers, Watts Blake and Bearne (now part of Sibelco) rented the company a shed on their grounds, which was used for two years until another move to nearby Starcross. This period saw ever-increasing sales of Newclay and its accessories but also the development of other products, including the introduction of Newplast, a high-quality version of the traditional, non-drying, re-usable modelling material readily recognised by many generations of children and adults.
Once again, the owner of the [Starcross] premises wished to develop the site, though it was becoming too small anyway, so in 1994 the business moved to an industrial estate at Heathfield near Newton Abbot, where it now occupies four large units. Product developments have continued, most notably with the introduction of Air Dough, a light and pliable, air-drying modelling material, Finger Soft Dough, a general-purpose playing dough primarily used by children, and Uro, a heat cure modelling material – the only polymer clay manufactured in the UK.
The business was sold in November 2006 and is now run by Paul and Valerie Dearing.
Well-known customers of Newclay Products Limited include Aardman Animations. In fact, Wallace & Gromit and the characters in ‘Chicken Run’ and ‘Shaun the Sheep’ are made, at least in part, from Newplast. A number of animation companies also take Newplast and other clay products, and this product also features in the Harry Potter films. Other well-known customers include Galt, Marks and Spencer, Early Learning Centre, House of Marbles, Plalite and Hornby, for whom products have been made under their own brand names. Local Education Authorities also take Newclay products for use in schools.
Large quantities of products, particularly Newplast, are supplied for industrial uses, such as construction, electronics and ship-building. Newplast is even utilised in the manufacture of the Airbus, ‘fridges and freezers and in some MRI scanners used for diagnosing serious illnesses.
More unusual products include a “fake” Semtex, which looks, feels, smells and weighs like the genuine article but lacks the explosive characteristics, for use in training sniffer dogs, and a dough product which is used to demonstrate sausage machines!
Newclay Products Limited principally supplies its products in bulk to wholesalers, retailers and educational suppliers, as well as to schools, universities and industrial end-users. We do not operate a retail sales business and minimum order levels will be applied to certain types of orders for direct supply.
Newclay Products Limited
Registered in England and Wales, Number 00919472
Registered Office: Wessex House, Teign Road, Newton Abbot, Devon, TQ12 4AA