The Municipality of Loures, belonging to the district of Lisbon, is part of the southern part of the province of Estremadura, which contacts and exchanges influences with Beira Litoral, Ribatejo and Alto Alentejo. Its borders are defined by the municipalities of Arruda dos Vinhos and Mafra, to the north, Mafra, Sintra and Odivelas, to the west, Lisbon and Odivelas, to the south and with the Tagus River and the municipality of Vila Franca de Xira, to the east. The Municipality of Loures has existed administratively since July 1886, after the extinction of the Municipality of Olivais.
The 19th century saw the birth of many ceramic production units, a product of the conjuncture born of the Industrial Revolution which, with its own advances and hesitations, made itself felt in our country, beginning to outline some important changes in the industrial fabric. Fábrica de Loiça de Sacavém has established itself as one of the most recognized producers of faience (ceramic paste composed of feldspar and kaolin) in Portugal. One of the main manufacturing units in the industrial belt of Lisbon’s orient zone due to its proximity to the river and the railway line.
Regarding the Porto Ceramics Exhibition, in 1882, in which he participated, Joaquim de Vasconcelos says the following: «the Sacavém factory […] presented itself with such a deplorable set of antiques that it caused serious repairs; but he learned from the critics and in a short time he put himself ahead of them all with his fine faience, imitation of half-porcelain».
In a similar context, Charles Lepierre writes in 1899: «Not long ago, the large factory in Sacavém inaugurated the manufacture of feldspathic earthenware». «For a great number of years Sacavém produced only imitations […] of the English drawings of the beginning of the century; Chinese monomania blinded the artistic direction of this establishment […] but it was only in the last three years that an absolutely obvious tendency towards good taste began to emerge.
Fábrica de Loiça de Sacavém (c.1858-1994) founded by Manuel Joaquim Afonso (1804-1871), an industrialist who applied for and obtained a “patent license as an introducer of the manufacture of hydraulic lime, cement and artificial pozzolanas”, in 14 May 1856, for a period of five years. In 1861, Manuel Joaquim Afonso sells the factory to the Stott Howorth family and the factory grows and diversifies the formats and decorative motifs of domestic, decorative and hygiene tableware, at the same time as they build new ovens, install new machines and the factory space is organized in different spaces for each production sector. James Gilman (1854-1921), from the second English family, takes over the management of the factory, in 1877 he signs for the administration, and after the death of John Stott Howorth (1829-1893), he establishes with Baroness Howorth de Sacavém the firm Baroness Howorth de Sacavém & C.ª. At this time, James Gilman introduced the manufacture of sanitary ware and tiles. Among the many artists at the factory, Jorge Colaço (1868-1942) stands out with the artistic panels (1904-1922) that are so well known and still in situ. A major technological advance for the factory is to be noted, with the first tunnel oven for domestic crockery, in 1912. After the death of James Gilman, Raul Gilman (son) manages the factory accompanied by Herbert Edward Over Gilbert, who was at the FLS since 1907 , the third English family to be in charge of the factory’s management, from 1922 until its closure in 1994. In this Gilbert period, production and the factory increased, we highlight the formats and decorations of the tableware with an Art Deco aesthetic influence, the beginning of the production of ceramic mosaics and the development of statuary (1930 -1960), as well as the renewal of the production of tiles and sanitary ware (1960-1980).
Sacavém’s tableware would eventually find its way into all homes, public and private institutions and hotel units, in Portugal, as well as in the African continent and in Brazil. Today they are still visible to everyone in the many railway stations and building facades covered with artistic and patterned tiles at Fábrica de Loiça de Sacavém. Likewise, the Loures Cemeteries have many of their graves decorated with ceramic plates, where the photograph is painted on ceramic, decorative vases and covering the graves with artistic and patterned tiles.
With the failure of the factory, the Municipality of Loures, in 1995, decided to safeguard and enhance the memory of the Sacavém Loiça Factory and built the Sacavém Ceramic Museum, inaugurated on July 7, 2000. , safeguarding and disseminating the legacy of the Loures Factories in connection with the industrialization process of the county.
The Sacavém Ceramics Museum is housed in a building built from scratch, which incorporates Oven 18, the last physical vestige of the Sacavém Pottery Factory. It is a magnificent example of the architecture of ovens, the bottle ovens that marked the landscape of the English industrial revolution and, also in Portugal, in the former lands of the Fábrica de Loiça de Sacavém. Since its opening, it has been dedicated to the study of the history and production of the Fábrica de Loiça de Sacavém and the industrial heritage of the municipality of Loures.
Its mission is to collect, conserve, preserve, document, investigate, and promote the assets entrusted to it, in order to enhance their dissemination and public presentation, contributing to the knowledge and enrichment of the work and art heritage of the Fábrica de Loiça de Sacavém, as well as the Industrial Heritage of the Territory. In its vocation, to constitute itself as a reference space for the study, discussion and problematization of issues associated with the heritage of the Fábrica de Loiça de Sacavém and the Industrial Heritage of the Municipality.
It is a municipal museum, under the supervision of the Municipality of Loures. It is part of the Loures Municipal Museum Network (which also includes the Loures Municipal Museum, the José Pedro House Museum, the Bucelas Wine and Vineyard Museum and the Torres Lines Interpretation Center). The Sacavém Ceramics Museum is a member of the Portuguese Network of Museums.
In 2006, the Municipality of Loures established the Manuel Joaquim Afonso Biennial Ceramic Prize, which distinguished works in the field of ceramic production. It had three editions.
2022 marks the 20th anniversary of the award to the Sacavém Ceramics Museum of the Luigi Micheletti Award – best European museum of the year, in the Industrial Heritage category by the EMYA – European Museum Year Award. There are other awards such as the APOM Awards – Portuguese Association of Museology: in 2013 – Award in the INCORPORATION category; in 2019 – Prize in the INCORPORATION category, Prize in the TEMPORARY EXHIBITION category and Prize in the PARTNERSHIP category. And also the SOS AZULEJO Awards: in 2012 – Honorable Mention – CATALOG; in 2018 – Honorable Mention – ART HISTORY.
The museum’s collection consists of around 10,000 pieces referring to the production of the former Fábrica de Loiça de Sacavém – tableware, plaster and wooden molds, color and product displays, laboratory materials, original pigments, documentary collections and archives. of the Factory and its artists.
In 2005, the Municipality of Loures inaugurated the José Pedro House Museum in the former residence of José da Silva Pedro (1907-1981) and his «Private Museum of Art and Floriculture».
The Casa Museu is today a space for visiting thematic exhibitions, intended to preserve the memory of the artist, modeler at Fábrica de Loiça de Sacavém (1934-1974), whose work is mainly made up of everyday society, religious themes, rural life and architectural reproductions. Outside, in the garden of the house, small buildings take us to an imaginary world. It is a municipal facility, under the supervision of the Municipality of Loures, integrating the Network of Municipal Museums of Loures.
Mayor of Loures
The accession of the Loures Municipality to the Portuguese Association of Cities and Villages of Ceramics is an opportunity to work in a national and European network, with cultural, touristic and economic value for the Loures territory.
The cooperation and exchange through the development of projects of greater impetus potentiates the resurgence and innovation of local, national, European and international ceramic production.
Loures has a vast collection of religious, palatial and civil buildings with relevant tile heritage. It had the largest faience factory in Portugal producing domestic, decorative and sanitary ware, standard and artistic tiles, ceramic mosaics, which are in use by families, at the facades of buildings throughout the country, artistic panels that decorate interiors and exteriors of railway stations and public and private buildings. Since 2000, all this industrial memory also lives at Sacavém Ceramics Museum.
With repercussions on Portuguese tourism, we point out at a national level, the need for greater protection and enhancement of the tile heritage and ceramic heritage as a whole, which so impresses and pleases foreigners and, above all, constitute an identity value of Portugal.
Mayor of Loures