A former school teacher, Batten was the person selected to take charge of the copper-works under the design supervision of John Drew MacKENZIE. He restarted the Newlyn Copperworks with Johnny Payne COTTON in the 1920s after the death of J D MacKenzie. The painting by Stanhope FORBES The Young Apprentice, Newlyn Copperworks depicts a young Johnny Payne Cotton being instructed by J D MacKenzie.
The Industrial Class ceased production in 1939 with the outbreak of World War II. Tom Batten died in 1949, while Johnny Payne Cotton restarted production in the 1950s with John C Laity at Morrab Studio, Penzance. He was assisted by Francis Charles CLEMENS in making the copper galleon on the roof of the Seaman's Mission at Newlyn in 1911, but WWI brought this 'golden age' of Newlyn copper to an end. Many Newlyn men enlisted, and a poignant reminder is the small plaque, made from a copper shell cap by Tom Batten while on active service, and inscribed 'Xmas, New Year Greetings, Balkans 1918'.
Fortunately Tom Batten survived and returned to Newlyn to continue the copper works with John Payne Cotton (under difficult circumstances). Shortages after the war meant that it was 1920 before they could buy copper again for their work. Much excellent metalwork continued to be made by them between the wars, but the production was now that of a commercial business, known locally as "Batten and Cotton's', without the educational function it had had in the early days. Copper was sold from their workshop in Wesley Place, along with Newlyn Enamel and artists' materials. By 1930, however, competition from cheap foreign imports affected them.
They also had to compete with machine-made souvenirs and could expect comparatively little income for long hours of skilled work. Ironically, this very skill prevented their work from reaching more prestigious markets such as the London stores, who supplied 'hand-made' goods to their discerning customers. When items of Newlyn work, notably a large plaque with a galleon design, made by Batten were taken to London by his sons (as late as 1950) the buyer at Harrods dismissed them as being 'too perfect' to be hand made (Berriman).
Copper worker, promoter
works and access
The items displayed in the 1986 Exhibition at NAG loaned by private collectors: a tobacco box; circular plaque made from a shell cap ('Balkans 1918'); a large plaque embossed with a galleon; a shallow dish; a paper knife in the shape of a sand eel; a pewter bowl.
Access to works: Penlee House Museum, Penzance (display of copperware)
Photograph of weathercock incorporating the copper galleon on the roof of the Seaman's Mission by Tom Batten and Francis Clemens (c1911) included in Berriman
NAG from 1924
Newlyn Industrial Class
Bennett (2008) Newlyn Copper, Arts & Crafts Copper Work in Newlyn (illus)
Berriman (1986) Arts and Crafts in Newlyn 189011930 (illus)
Hardie (2009) Artists in Newlyn and West Cornwall (pp128-134 illus)