Hamill’s Beat - Welcome back to the tea-riffic teapot

The golden teapot outside Fallers Jewellers, Strand Road. (2201PG67)
The golden teapot outside Fallers Jewellers, Strand Road. (2201PG67)

Do you remember Derry’s famous Golden Teapot? The chances are if you’d seen it you’d remember it. It’s that sort of thing. It’s so unusual it’s always a case of once seen never forgotten.

It was moved from outside McCullagh’s shop in Waterloo Place when the shop closed to make way for a new Savings Bank in 1963. It only travelled across the river to McCullagh’s other branch at Clooney Terrace. It was taken down, after over 100 years on display in the city, when the shop there closed in the early 1970s. If you can remember it you’re probably now at least in your 60s!

It first appeared in September 1866 outside John Parkhill’s new grocery business in Waterloo Place. Nineteen years later Parkhill’s business was taken over by Holmes and Mullin Ltd and in turn, they sold it to Mr W. J. McCullagh in 1912. In 1938 W.J. was succeeded by his sons Harold and Norman and Norman opened the branch at 55 Clooney Terrace.

The Golden Teapot is a truly remarkable relic of old Derry. It’s a classic but unique Victorian trade sign. Such ‘signs’ were a popular form of marketing. For instance, wool people generally had a lamb or a fleece and there was a lamb sign near Ferryquay gate in Derry and the well known umbrella people, Johnston’s, had a man holding an umbrella as their sign.

Teapots were more unusual and where they did exist they were usually made of wood.

The Derry teapot, being made of gilded copper is unique. It weighs 74 kilos, is over a metre high and two metres wide.

Our teapot rivals one across the Atlantic in Boston which was erected in commemoration of the “Boston Tea Party” during the American War of Independence. Although Bostonians claim their teapot is the largest in the world it is actually similar in size to ours and ours was erected seven years earlier.

Today the Faller family is rightly proud to have installed the famous teapot on the façade of their magnificent Victorian premises at 12 Strand Road.

It is 130 years since a 23 years old German immigrant, William Faller, grandfather of the firm’s present owner, Noel, opened his first jeweller’s shop in the city.

Noel purchased the teapot from Mrs McCullagh in 1974 and he has had extensive restorative work done to it in the intervening years. It’s fitting that this important artefact has been restored during Derry’s year as the UK City of Culture. It’s an important part of the city’s heritage.

It is hoped that it will capture the imagination of all who see it and that it will once again be a major landmark.

It is likely to attract many locals and visitors to see it in its new home.

The Golden Teapot has had an eventful history and the fact that it has survived so long is remarkable.

I’ve undertaken extensive research into it and in coming weeks I hope to highlight some of the most colourful aspects of its past.