Midwinter tea set

An important object in the history of plastics, variously attributed to John Vale and Roy Midwinter but with no substantiating evidence.

Midwinter tea set
case solved
Case number - AIBDC : 0_6619
Part of a pale blue tea set manufactured by W R Midwinter Ltd in the 1960s. The set comprises a large plate, six side plates, six saucers, a milk jug and a sugar bowl. The plates are a square in shape. Made of melamine formaldehyde and popular during the 50s and 60s for its bright colours and 'unbreakable' quality, this kind of tableware later lost favour because it stained easily so is now mainly used for picnics.
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DesignerUnknown - Wanted
ManufacturerMidwinter
CountryUK
Date1950 - 1969 (circa) - Wanted
Dimensionsheight 70 mm, diameter 100 mm, height 70 mm, diameter 100 mm, width 145 mm, width 160 mm, width 245 mm
Materialsplastic, MF, melamine formaldehyde
Methodcompression moulded
Colourblue (pale)
Inscription"Break resistant Tableware. Midwinter Modern. Made in England."
Images on this site are for non-commercial, educational use only. MoDiP has done its utmost to obtain clearance from all IPR holders before adding images to this catalogue, if you believe that any image has been used without permission please contact us on modip@aub.ac.uk.
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16/10/13

Midwinter tea set, AIBDC : 0_6619. We really want to find out who designed this. See: http://10most.org.uk/artefact/midwinter-tea-set

16/10/13

Oooh I like.. Any other colour variations?

16/10/13

I see it! (and you of course)

16/10/13

Stop Press! New headline: 'Design Breakthrough' - "the cup for Midwinter’s melamine range represented a design breakthrough. The handle, often a weak area in the design of moulded plastic cups, was realised through a design solution that achieved comfort for either a ‘pinch’ or ‘finger-through’ hold."

16/10/13

I also love the name detail - Designed by A. H. 'Woody' Woodfull and John Vale.

28/10/13

Yvonne - I really like your quote about the handle of the Midwinter melamine cup. Can you tell me where you found it please?

28/10/13

It is from the V&A collection, link above posted by Lewis

28/10/13

hmm. Thank you. I guess the cataloguer copied it from a book but took it as uncontestable fact rather than someone's opinion. It would be good to know whose perception it was.

29/10/13

Most likely from Woody. I was the third man alongside Woody & John Vale when this was designed. Handle needed to take the very high moulding pressure & be stress free

29/10/13

That's interesting David. As you were there, can you tell us anything more?

30/10/13

Roy Midwinter had seen the big success that Melamine tableware had in the USA 50% of the market & via Streetly ( BIP ) asked Woody & John Vale to base their designs on his best selling ceramic range Quartic shape for plates & saucers

30/10/13

The cup shapes & saucers are almost identical when compared with the ceramic ware, the big problem was the handle, & this required at the time complex tooling of the moulds to achieve a acceptable looking handle. Initial production was for a single colour cup , later changed to more costly two colours , This was a result of the success of my Ranton design , the first two colour melamine cup , Midwinter, Ranton, & Brookes & Adams, all used BIP standard melamine colours. which was vogue in the mid 50's , strong, which showed the superior finish , when compared to UF .The white inner did eventually in most cases show up the fine scratches , sugar & spoons coffee tea stains , Its good that after 55 years so many are still around,

30/10/13

Wonderful testimony. Thank you so much. On 30 Oct 2013, at 08:48, David Harman Powell wrote: >

01/11/13

Just before I left the BIP Product Design Unit to join Ekco Plastics Ltd as Chief Designer , Woody asked me to come up with a new cup & saucer designs for what became 'Gaydon' All tableware is centred around the keynote items, the C&S, I made preliminary model of the cup with an oval shape handle, Later after I had left Woody changed the saucer & plate shape from round to oval. I was unhappy with that because there is no symmetry especially with the C&S unless one takes care to place the cup in line with the centre axis of the saucer. Encore followed, excuse the pun!

01/11/13

Wonderful insider info, gold dust. Thank you. On 1 Nov 2013, at 15:35, David Harman Powell wrote: >

03/11/13

That's fascinating.

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Case notes

Susan Lambert's picture

Midwinter tea set - Case AIBDC : 0_6619

 

Designed by AH Woodfull & John Vale: CoID Design of Year 1957

16/10/13

The artefact was found here on the V&A website.

Dark green cup on a red saucer.

It is attributed to AH Woodfull and John Vale and won the CoID Design of the Year in 1957.

 

Further confirmation of design team

An article by Ness Wood on the Design History Society website provides the following information:

Turner and Newall were the 'umberella' company under which the Melmex tableware was moulded. The company began in 1920 and had interests in the asbestos industry, as well as in engineering, plastics, rubber, railways and shipbuilding. By 1954 British Industrial Plastics Ltd., (BIP) joined the T&N Group and BIP had a factory in Streetly, Birmingham, hence Streetly Manufacturing Co. Ltd. This was where high quality hydraulic moulding presses were produced for the plastics industry, and millions of moulds were created each year for this new material. It was Streetly who made the Plastics Tableware Melmex designed by Albert H. Woodfull and John D. Vale of BIP…

Insider information

29/10/2013

 David Harman Powell wrote: 'I was the third man alongside Woody & John Vale when this was designed. Handle needed to take the very high moulding pressure & be stress free...

30/10/2013

More fascinating insights from David Harman Powell: ' Roy Midwinter had seen the big success that Melamine tableware had in the USA 50% of the market & via Streetly ( BIP ) asked Woody & John Vale to base their designs on his best selling ceramic range Quartic shape for plates & saucers ....The cup shapes & saucers are almost identical when compared with the ceramic ware, the big problem was the handle, & this required at the time complex tooling of the moulds to achieve a acceptable looking handle. Initial production was for a single co...'

Case solved

Designer: AH Woodfull and John Vale

Date: 1957

Participating agents: David Harman Powell, and another who wishes to remain anonymous

Full texts of David Harman Powell's posts are in the Evidence Locker.