Ken Townsend
photo © Terry Hulf


The Humorous World of



A homage to Ken Townsend's life and works.

Kenneth Towsend backstamp

3 Oct 11: A new version of the Tiger tile, that is presumed to be an earlier design.

26 Aug 11: Plenty of activity on eBay has seen the price of tiles soar. A price of £191 for the Whale tile has set a new record.

1 May 10: A new Weatherby dish has surfaced with the sad Lion featured.

24-April 10: Finally! All the Horoscope tiles have been identified and can now be viewed!

15 Feb 10: New find! A circular tile depicting a Norman soldier, which matches the square tile found before.

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photo © Pip Harris

The Kenneth Townsend website is © David P Encill & Pip Harris. Various photos throughout this site are copyright © the owner, as stated

Who was he?

Kenneth Townsend (1931-99) managed to capture the humorous side of life through his art, drawings and writing.

He was based in Hastings and is known to have worked as a freelance designer for Hornsea Pottery, Chance Brothers (glass), Cuckoobird Productions (textiles) Merit (games) and James Galt & Co. Ltd (toys). He was also the art director for Pickpocket Books from 1991-1998.

He exhibited his abstract art both at home and abroad and is represented in public collections in England, Scotland and Holland. He is the late brother of Dennis Townsend of Iden Pottery in Rye.


Kenneth Townsend with friend
Above: Ken with a friend

Ken's Work

His cartoons are certainly endearing, whimsical and unforgettable. They are mostly found decorating standard 6in. (15cm) white ceramic tiles, for which there are well over 30 known designs.


Perhaps his most recognizable is the animal series 'Menagerie', which adorned ceramic tiles. There are believed to be 26 different designs. A different style also appeared on his tiles featuring the 12 horoscope signs. Another popular series was the Scenes of London, which was also adopted by Chance Brothers (below).


Kenneth Townsend Funky Cow tile
The Happy Cow

Chance Glass

The same style is seen in the Scenes of London slumped glass trays produced by Chance Brothers, in Smethwick, Birmingham. These were produced in 1972 and came as a set of six, plus a lone one featuring a Scottish Piper (1973) and a rarely seen Shakespeare series (1974). This range extended further the figures seen only on Ken's independantly produced tiles.


Chance Brothers glass


Another firm which adopted some of the Menagerie series was Weatherby Pottery and these can be seen on small dishes and mugs.

His other notable work includes the Love Mug series for Hornsea Pottery in 1976 (see right).

Hornsea Pottery mug

Book Illustrations

Ken was also a very productive illustrator for children's books. In particular his own book, Felix the Bald-headed Lion proved immensely popular and was chosen as an outstanding book for the Junior Literary Guild in USA.

Illustrated (right) is an example from one book, Tootoo's Friends on the Farm, written by Warren Chetham-Strode.

Tootoo's Friends on the Farm


In conjunction with Cuckoobird Productions Ltd. Ken produced some stunning textile designs, based on the cartoon animals.

Besides the Lion King (see right), a tiger also featured. See this page for more details.

Lion King textile design
Adapted from a photo
© Jeremy Townsend


Ken was contracted to produce humorous cartoons for three games. Details can be seen here.

The Monkey (right) can be seen on the box of the Marble Fun game by Merit.

  The Kenneth Townsend web site is copyright © David P Encill
Image rights copyright © The Townsend family