ANOTHER blow has been dealt to the ceramics industry in Worcester with the announced closure of Albany Fine China.

The famous firm, which was launched in 1972 by former Royal Worcester Porcelain workers, made decorative china and counted Harrods and the Queen's jeweller Asprey as its customers.

In its heyday its products were sold all over the world, and some of its china and bronze pieces were even reputed to have been bought as wedding presents for the Prince and Princess of Wales.

But the firm, which had just two full-time employees at the end, started to decline in the late 1980s.

Sales figures fell even further when the factory, which was then based in Lowesmoor, was ravaged by fire in 1995.

However, its former managing director, and one of the original founders, Bill Nicholls (pictured right), managed to turn this around.

But as he recounts, Albany only enjoyed a brief revival, and has been struggling since. He put the closure down to a changing marketplace.

"People just do not want the sort of decorative china Albany was creating," said Mr Nicholls.

"When we first started production in the 1970s it was all the rage. We enjoyed colossal success throughout the 70s and 80s. It was a really exciting place to work.

"But the world does change and the original founders are extremely saddened to hear of its closure, although not surprised."

The firm, which had since moved to Pope Iron Road, Barbourne, closed on Monday, February 28.

The announcement comes less than two months after it was announced that more than 100 staff were told their jobs were on the line at Royal Worcester Porcelain.

The troubled company, which opened in the city in 1751, released a statement saying it was proposing "a restructuring of its main manufacturing facilities."

A total of 130 employees may be affected.