THEY might have been making toilets for 300 years, but this toilet manufacturer says its business is still going strong.
Blakes started out in Gosport in 1789 making bespoke toilets and other equipment for classic yachts.
The company is now owned by Sea Sure, in Warsash, which has made yacht and dinghy equipment that’s been used in almost every boat in the Olympics.
The firm has spoken of its history as it has released a new bespoke range thanks to advances in technology – enabling customers to get their loos made in any colour imaginable.
Managing director Graham Brown, 57, said: ‘Traditionally porcelain was not white, pastels were the fashion for a long time during the 1960s then white became the high-end look, but that’s changing.
‘Colour is coming back into designer bathrooms onshore, and we’re bringing it back to Blakes. We’re delighted with the results.’
The toilets are handcrafted and since Sea Sure took over the company 12 years ago they’ve kept these old building traditions alive. The porcelain for them is currently handmade in Staffordshire.
Blakes has distributors all over the world, and as there’s been a resurgence in the classic yacht market, more and more people are renovating their yachts as far as Australia.
Prices for the toilets start at £2,500, but Graham says that these bespoke bogs are worth it.
‘I once had an Australian tell me, “Graham, that’s the most expensive dunny I’ve ever seen.”
‘And I know how it sounds, we’re talking about toilets, but when you see them you really appreciate the level of craftsmanship that goes into them.
‘Just the ceramic bowl will take a craftsman a day to make. The castings are solid bronze and the work that goes into handcrafting all this equipment is immensely difficult,’ he said.
Not only does Sea Sure make Blakes’ toilets, the company also renovates them. Its takes as little as two weeks and includes dissembling and polishing the toilet, as well as replacing all of the perishable parts so it’s ready for another 80 years of service.
The company is currently exhibiting its range in Amsterdam at METS Trade Show – the world’s largest trade exhibition of marine equipment, materials and systems.