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Breaks are a 'no-no' for Valerie Cocks

For a few years now for Valerie Cocks, Manager of University Centre Northampton until December 2001, 'getting out the best china' has been an integral part of day-to-day life. Already running a successful bed and breakfast business but with no experience in the retail trade before, she decided to start up on her own - selling top quality table and kitchenware. 

"It was a little daunting starting a business which was completely different to anything I had undertaken before", said Valerie. "But an interest in the English potteries and the knowledge that there was a serious gap in the market gave me the confidence to start the business of selling tableware from the shop at home or by mail order. Not only are local people calling at the shop, but we are receiving requests to ship tableware further afield - for example, to Canada, North America and Australia, as well as various regions within the UK."

All the kitchen and tableware on offer is made in Staffordshire and produced by three well-known potteries - Spode, Burleighware (predominantly blue and white) and Royal Staffordshire ('factory seconds' in a variety of colours and ranges). 

Individual pieces can be purchased, enabling buyers to mix and match or buy as little or as much as they wish. There's a bargain for everyone - for young people starting out to those with 'pots' of money to spend. 

The business is called Nobottle China after Valerie's home, Nobottle Grange, which is located six miles north west of Northampton, midway between Junction 16 of the M1 and Althorp House. The name Nobottle is a derivation of 'new houses'. Nobottle itself consists of some ten houses, the earliest of which dates back to the early fourteenth century.

About once a month she takes the business on location to county shows. "Visitors to our stand often ask to go on our mailing list for news of the latest developments, one of which is the annual pre-Christmas sale", says Valerie.

And if you miss Valerie at a county show, she is always willing to open the shop for visitors outside opening hours. "If I'm here, I'm open", she says. "Though we recommend that prospective visitors telephone to check we are available." Even if she was able to find time to read the tea leaves at the bottom of a cup it's likely they would indicate a busy time ahead for Valerie and Nobottle China.

  • Nobottle China is open on Fridays and Saturdays, 10.30 am - 7.00pm. For further details contact Valerie on 01604 759494, fax 01604 590799, mobile 07887 850965, email

August 2002

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Last updated: 2 August 2002 15:55
Created by: Rachel Tunstall
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