In 1897 Staffordshire pottery manufacturers James Macintyre & Co. Ltd employed 24-year-old William Moorcroft as a designer, and within a year he was put in full charge of the company's art pottery studio. Moorcroft's first innovative range of pottery, called Florian Ware, was a great success and won him a gold medal at the St. Louis International Exhibition in 1904. Unusually at that time, he adopted the practice of signing his name, or his initials, on nearly all the pottery he designed, the production of which he personally oversaw. In due course, the extent to which his success had overshadowed Macintyre's other manufacturing activities resulted in resentment on the part of his employers, culminating in their decision in 1912 to close down his studio. He then set up his own company and the following year production of his pottery was transferred to a brand new factory nearby.

The Moorcroft factory produced an extensive array of moderately-priced domestic tableware items in addition to its famous tube lined, hand-painted art pottery. Moorcroft's reputation was enhanced when Queen Mary, a keen collector of his works, granted him a royal appointment in 1928. Shortly before the death of William in 1945, his elder son, Walter Moorcroft, took control of the business, which he continued to develop. The company's royal warrant was re-issued in his name in 1946.

Between its founding and its leadership under Walter Moorcroft, the company had been financed in collaboration with the famous London store, Liberty. The Liberty store's interest was bought out by Moorcroft in 1962.

Rising fuel and labour costs brought Moorcroft, with its highly labour-intensive techniques, into financial difficulties and in an attempt to mass produce Moorcroft pottery, part of the company was sold to the Roper Brothers in 1984. This attempt was unsuccessful, and in 1986 Roper Brothers' share was resold to business partners Hugh Edwards and Richard Dennis. In 1992 Dennis and his pottery designer wife, Sally Tuffin, left the company, leaving the Edwards family as sole owners.

Walter Moorcroft retired as the director of design in 1987, but continued to contribute until his last design, 'Rock of Ages', was launched in 1999. In 1993, 24-year-old Rachel Bishop joined the company as its senior designer. By claiming the original establishment of the Macintyre studio under William Moorcroft in 1897 as its own founding date, in 1997 Moorcroft celebrated its centenary. During 2008 it established a new Moorcroft Design Studio and employed several talented designers to extend the range of its products.

Today, Moorcroft leads the world of art pottery with its own distinctive design style. With added value coming from the skills and craftsmanship of a dedicated workforce, Moorcroft is selling more of its magnificent ware all over the world today, than it did even in its previous heyday in the mid-1920s.