The Derby Porcelain Factory began as a very small business around 1748. It was probably set up by a Londoner called Andrew Planché. Planché was the son of Huguenot refugees and had briefly been an apprentice jeweller. No-one knows how Planché learned to make porcelain but it is possible that it was something that he was taught by members of the French exile community in London, some of whom worked in the factories at Bow and Chelsea. It is unclear why he left London but Planché is known to have arrived in Derby between 1748 and 1751.
An unsigned agreement in 1756 between Planché, William Duesbury, an enameller, and John Heath, an investor, established a business partnership for the ‘art of making English China’. Planché seems to have left Derby and the porcelain industry not long after this date, leaving Duesbury and Heath in charge of the Nottingham Road factory.
Many of the details of his life remain a mystery but Planché is thought to have modelled a number of the figures seen during early 1750s. Although we can’t prove conclusively exactly who made the figures, the early period of porcelain figure making in Derby is often referred to as the Planché period.