Historical information

This Minton floor tile is from the wreck of the Loch Ard and is currently on display in the Great Circle Gallery at Flagstaff Hill. The iron hulled clipper ship from the Loch Line was heading for Port Phillip from London, when it ran into the cliffs of Mutton Bird Island near Port Campbell.
The Loch Ard was laden with a high value cargo including luxury goods intended for display at the Melbourne International Exhibition in 1880. One notable survivor from the ship’s freight manifest was the well packed Minton porcelain peacock, a two meter high ceramic masterpiece of vivid glazed colours. (This is also on display in the Great Circle Gallery).
The almost total loss of life and property from the Loch Ard registered as a shocking tragedy for the Colony of Victoria, at a time when social confidence and economic optimism were otherwise high. Wealth generated from Gold and Wool was increasingly being spent on grandiose private residences and imposing public buildings. The demand for quality furnishings and fittings was therefore strong.
Among the products consigned to burgeoning colonial markets by the Milton pottery at Stoke upon Trent, were their new range of colourfully patterned but very durable floor tiles ideal for the high-traffic spaces in the large civic buildings then being constructed in Australia and America. These new floor tiles were “encaustic”, meaning that their designs and colours were encased “within” the depth of the tile.
Rather than their decorative patterns being glazed onto the surface of the tile, their inlaid designs were created during the manufacturing process, as “coloured slips” (or liquid clay) were poured into a deep pre-molded casting. When fired, the resulting tile was colours-fast and design-fast.

Significance

The shipwreck of the Loch Ard is of significance for Victoria and is registered on the Victorian Heritage Register ( S 417). Flagstaff Hill has a varied collection of artefacts from Loch Ard and its collection is significant for being one of the largest accumulation of artefacts from this notable Victorian shipwreck of which the subject items are a small part. The collections objects give us a snapshot of how we can interpret the story of this tragic event. The collection is also archaeologically significant as it represents aspects of Victoria's shipping history that allows us to interpret Victoria's social and historical themes of the time. Through is associated with the worst and best-known shipwreck in Victoria's history.

Physical description

A square Minton floor tile with a dark brown, beige and white pattern. The tile has a piece broken off along one side and some chipping along the edges. This ‘encaustic’ floor tile was recovered from the shipwreck of the LOCH ARD. Other examples of this manufacture have been recovered from the wreck site and form part of the collection. Artefact Reg No LA/94.

Inscriptions & markings

branded...MINTON&CO Patent....