This is a large stoneware jug, sprig decorated with a clear glaze over the main body and a celadon glaze on the lid. “The Craven Heifer” and the year 1896 are stamped onto it.
Because the jug has a pub name on it, it might be thought that this was made for serving alcohol, however I believe that this was a water jug and perhaps had a water filter in it.
This is an unusual pot and I have certainly seen no other like it attributed to a Burton pottery. I suspect it was commissioned by a public house named the Craven Heifer or even given to the publican as a gift? It has no markings as to where it was made, which is frustratingly typical of Burton pots. I feel certain though that it is Burton for three reasons:
1 – There are only a handful of pubs called the Craven Heifer in the country, most being in the North West and close to Burton, one in particular being in Ingleton, which is only 4 miles away from Burton. I feel there is a strong case for it being made for the Ingleton Craven Heifer, as the sign outside the pub includes the same year (1896) that is stamped onto the jug:
Could the jug have been made to commemorate the opening of the pub? Further research in “The History of Ingleton” by John Bentley suggests (with what looks like compelling evidence) that the Craven Heifer actually began around the 1840s, however it was bought around 1896 by Yates and Jacksons Brewery and they extended the pub at this time into the neighbouring cottages, so the jug could have been made to commemorate this? Betsy Ann Clapham was the landlady from around 1896 (John Bentley). Could Betsy Ann have ordered the jug?
2 – The unicorn and lion sprig decoration on the belly of the jug can be seen on another Burton pot (in the Folly in Settle).
The unicorn and lion decoration looks identical on both pots and in all probability came out of the same sprig mould.
Interestingly the lion and unicorn sprig looks identical to the sprig on the following jug, produced by Manor Pottery, Eccleshill, Bradford:
I believe that a Burton potter worked at Manor Pottery for a short while (possibly William Bateson around 1850, this is suggested in a Dalesman article published in 1949). I think it is very possible that the Burton potter in question may well have surreptitiously taken some impressions from some of Manor Pottery’s sprig moulds and then later cast them in plaster to effectively give them a working sprig mould and these moulds would have eventually ended up in Burton. The reason I don’t think the Craven Heifer jug was made at Manor Pottery is because it would have been salt glazed and also I doubt Manor Pottery would have used two different sizes of font for stamping “1896” – Manor Pottery was very much geared up to making sprig decorated stoneware – I suspect they wouldn’t have struggled to find the correct size font for any number.
Another reason for it not being made at Manor Pottery, and I swear that I didn’t know this when I wrote the last paragraph, is that Manor Pottery actually closed in 1887 and the jug was made 11 years later! This leads me to a completely new theory, which is that one of the Burton potteries bought a job lot of press moulds from Manor Pottery when they closed down.
3 – There is a label on the back of the jug with the following “J. Seward Burton”. Seward is not a name that I normally associate with the Burton pottery industry, however after a little research, I was surprised. I found the following entry in the 1861 census:
John Waller Seward is also in the 1881 census:
He was still making pots in the 1901 census, at the age of 78!
I have managed to build up a reasonably accurate account of John Seward’s life. I would like to take credit for what follows, but that would not be true. I put an earlier version of this article onto a Facebook group page and a chap called Ben from Belgium took an interest in the jug and very kindly did some research for me that allows me to say the following about John Waller Seward:
John Waller Seward was born in 1822. He was the illegitimate son of Martha Seward. Martha Seward died at the age of 19 shortly after the birth of John. Her death must surely have been related to the birth? Martha’s father, William Seward and mother, Anne Seward most likely brought up the young child. William Seward was a potter by trade and he briefly ran Lawsons Pottery (next to Potters Arms Pottery), before taking over the Walmsley Pottery (off High Street) around 1800 both of them located in Burton. It is likely that William taught John Seward pottery and/or arranged for him to work at another Burton pottery. John married Ellen Wilson in 1843 and by this time he had found out the name of his father, a John Tippin, who was a stone mason. As a young man I would guess that John worked at a number of potteries. I wonder if he worked for a time at Manor Pottery in Bradford? If this was the case then he may well have acquired the sprig moulds here that enabled him to make the Craven Heifer jug? I feel certain that John ended up working for Thomas Coates at the Baggaley Pottery and I suspect that it was here that the jug was made. The reason for me thinking that he worked at the Baggaley Pottery is that Thomas Coates’ name is on the probate form for John’s death at the ripe old age of 84 in 1906. John Seward exhibited his pottery locally and won prizes for his pots. In 1889, one of his vases sold for 15 shillings, which would be about £90 in today’s money.
What follows is the evidence that Ben from Belgium gave me that enabled me to write the last paragraph:
It’s a great pity that J Seward didn’t sign the base of the pot!
Up until this point I have to confess that I have only seen photos of the jug, however last night I visited the owner and got to see the jug. Members of the Burton in Lonsdale Heritage Group also joined me for this visit. I have to say that it is even more impressive in real life. One big surprise for me is the label with “J Seward Burton” is not a card label attached to the jug with a piece of string as I had imagined after talking with the owner, but a ceramic label stuck to the back of the jug. This proves conclusively that John Seward made the jug.
A number of people have commented that the lid was not made for the jug. Having handled the jug, I believe that it was. It fits the jug perfectly and the clay body (the unglazed bit) matches the clay body of the jug, also Jane Burns brought in an old photo of an exhibition of Burton pots from the 1970s and there is a very similarly decorated lidded vase which definitely has lid and body different colours. If I had made the jug, I would probably have taken some of the lid glaze onto the main body to create more of a unity between the lid and the jug.
People have also commented about it being salt glazed. This is definitely not the case. There is a thickness to the glaze and a definite separation between clay and glaze at the bottom of the pot that you just wouldn’t get with a salt glazed pot.
The next day, I was sent the following from Ben from Belgium, which proves conclusively that John Seward did indeed work for Thomas Coates at the Baggaley Pottery:
This was taken from the Lancaster Standard & County Advertiser, 29th June 1894 and it is talking about a ‘Grand Bazaar at Morecambe’, a grand multi-day event raising money for a church build fund. The event was attended by the Baggaley Pottery and their representative was John Seward, who they describe as a “fine art potter, who gives daily exhibitions of the manufacture of art pottery”.
I also received the following from Julie Gabriel-Clarke from the Burton in Lonsdale Heritage Group:
The previous newspaper clips make very interesting reading. It seems that John Seward perhaps encouraged by, or even in partnership with, Thomas Coates was delving into art pottery and was attending bazaars to sell and market their wares. Art pottery was a direct result of the Arts and Craft Movement where skilled factory workers would, perhaps with the help of a designer, produce individual one off pieces or small runs of items. A number of the Stoke potteries were experimenting producing art pottery around this time.
My guess is that John Seward was at an age where he could semi retire (this was before the state pension existed), but he didn’t want to give up pottery, however he wanted to make pottery to his own design/liking and not just endless repetition throwing. I guess this is something I aspire to myself, so I can definitely relate to this. Thomas probably encouraged him, possibly thinking that it was a direction that the industry at the time could take. Thomas was astute and a good business man and he may have thought that there could be some money in it. I also suspect that there was a lifelong friendship between the two men (Thomas Coates was one of the beneficiaries on John Seward’s probate form) so this would also have been an interesting venture for them both to share and enjoy.
The link with Lady Bective is an interesting one. Lady Bective lived at Underly Hall in Kirkby Lonsdale, so wasn’t too far away from Burton. It wasn’t uncommon for the aristocracy to dabble in the field of pottery, for instance The Manor House Pottery at Eccleshill, Bradford was established by Jeremiah Rawson, Lord of the Manor, about 1835 and more poignantly to the history of Burton-in-Lonsdale, Harold Parkinson of Hornby Castle invested a lot of money into Waterside Pottery in the late 1930s in an attempt to re boost the Burton-in-Lonsdale pottery industry. Could Countess Bective have had a part in designing the jug?
When John Seward made the jug he would have been 74 years old, which is an impressive age for what is undoubtedly an impressive pot!
This is a real show stopping big Burton pot. It would be great to see it on display in a museum. Lancaster Museum or The Folly at Settle would be ideal resting places for it. I just hope it doesn’t end up in shards in a house where its’ true value is not known. These pots are very rare.
Just when you think that this story can’t deliver anything else, it suddenly does. Lancaster Museum shared the story of the Craven Heifer jug on their Facebook page and it got the following comment;
“Hello Bentham Pottery, what an amazing piece of stoneware. I am intrigued. I haven’t come across the Burton group of potteries before, but I’m from Chesterfield in Derbyshire which had a well-established pottery industry from the 18th to the 20th century based to the West of the town (Brampton) and to the North (Whittington/Newbold). These were salt glaze stoneware potteries which after salt glazing became unacceptable shifted to making sprigged stoneware with a clear, lead free glaze. This offers parallels to this situation. The brown salt glazed stoneware jug you show here could easily be Brampton made. The sprigs are identical to ones I’ve seen on Chesterfield pots, the royal crest and the cow can be found on pots in Chesterfield Museum’s collection. I spent a long time tying myself in knots trying to use sprigs to attribute pots to individual potteries, and finding identical sprigs on pots from Bourne’s pottery (Denby near Derby) was deeply confused! The answer in part was that the sprig blocks from which the moulds were cast were bought in from Stoke on Trent from specialist block makers. Couple of other observations. Chesterfield Museum acquired a sizeable collection of sprig moulds which had been rescued from Barker Pottery the last Brampton pottery some of which came from other Brampton potteries that Barkers had taken over or that had found their way to Barkers when other potteries had closed down. It isn’t easy to be sure which pots were made at which pottery for another reason- they collaborated with each other, but fixing prices and sometimes subcontracting to another local pottery if they had an order they couldn’t handle themselves. There are many pieces that were specifically commissioned from the potteries by businesses and individuals. Even into the 1930s you could order a sprigged teapot with someone’s name on it as a special gift. Big pieces with the names of local pubs are known as are uncustomised spirit kegs. Really pleased to see this super example from your area!”
I submitted an article to the Craven Herald about the jug. Here is the article in full;
Shortly after the publication of this article an anonymous benefactor purchased the jug for the Folly Museum at Settle. This is a great outcome and I am pleased to say that the jug can now be viewed in the Folly.
The Spider’s Web Gates were one of the iconic objects of my childhood. They stand at the entrance of the driveway to Clifford Hall, close to Burton-in-Lonsdale. Their design is unusual, unique and really out-of-character with the area. The Spider’s Web Gates were always more than just gates: it is as though their design was too strong to be just contained within wrought iron, and so leaked out into the mythology and landscape of the area. The locality around them became known as Spider’s Web. A walk through Greta Woods looping back to Burton via Clifford Hall is referred to as the Spider’s Web Walk. The stretch of road from Burton Bridge to Ravensclose is known locally as Spider’s Web Road. As a child I was told that touching the gates would give you bad luck. Being friendly with the Towler family (during the 1970s and 1980s) who lived at Clifford Hall, I had no option but to touch the gates to open and close them on a regular basis every time I cycled down to visit. I have probably accumulated a lot of bad luck as result of this.
I hadn’t really thought about the gates for a long time and then a lady contacted me about the Burton-in-Lonsdale pottery industry. In her email, she casually mentioned that her grandfather had made the Spider’s Web Gates in a blacksmiths in Burton-in-Lonsdale.
William (Henry Garnett) Slater was born in 1876. His father ran the smithy on Duke Street, Burton-in-Lonsdale. William worked and trained to be a blacksmith with his father and the Spider’s Web Gates were made by William during his apprenticeship. He was apparently very proud of the gates and quite rightly so to. This would date the gates to sometime in the 1890s. William also made the weather vane on top of the church spire and when the vane was taken down – not too long ago – for a clean, the name SLATER was found stamped on it.
A friend of mine pointed out that the gates are a listed building and sent me Craven District Council’s reference to this:
Gates to the south of Clifford Hall Cottages, Burton-in-Lonsdale SD 6470 7126 II 24 June 1988 Gates c. 1820. Cast iron and ashlar.
A pair of ashlar banded and rusticated gate piers surmounted by ball finials. A pair of cast iron gates with iron sun turrets from the top and bottom corners, with radiating iron spokes. These gates are very similar in design to those designed by Thomas Telford on the Holyhead Road, and might be after his design
This is very interesting for a number of reasons:
If you Google Image search “Thomas Telford Gates”, you get lots of images of gates that bare an uncanny resemblance to the Spider’s Web Gates. I don’t think there can be any doubt that the gates were inspired by Thomas Telford’s design.
The gates were not actually based on a spider’s web at all, but rather on a double sunburst pattern.
The gates are dated to 1820. I suspect that Craven District Council estimated this based upon the building of Clifford Hall. However if this date is correct then William Slater cannot have made them, as this would be almost 60 years before he was born.
Thomas Telford’s sunburst gates were designed for the toll houses on the London to Holyhead road that was built between 1815 and 1826. If the Spider’s Web Gates were made in 1820, then they predate the completion of the road. Could the Spider’s Web Gates have a direct connection with Thomas Telford? Where they manufactured alongside the Holyhead gates?
The gate posts are cast iron. I doubt that a local blacksmith would have the facilities to cast something so large. The same friend that pointed out the listed building reference for the gates suggested that the posts resemble cannons – and the filial cannon balls and might be a reference to the Battle of Waterloo (1815). This seems a possibility (especially if they were built in 1820).
Personally I find it hard to believe that the Spider’s Web Gates are over 200 years old. I think the posts though may well be. My feelings are that the original gates (perhaps they were wooden) were looking a bit tired by the late 19th century and so the owner of Clifford Hall arranged for the local blacksmith to make him some new ones. Too many descendants of William Slater seem to confirm that he made the gates, for it to be a myth. I guess you could prove this theory by finding the SLATER stamp on the gates, although I suspect the gates may need to be sandblasted first. I will however definitely search for it next time I am passing. As to how the design was chosen, well that is anybody’s guess. Perhaps the owner of Clifford hall spent a lot of time travelling from Holyhead to London or maybe William Slater had a strong interest in prominent Scottish engineers?
Today, the Spider’s Web Gates are permanently locked open, which in my opinion is a great shame, as they make a far bolder statement closed when the strands/beams of the four radiating webs/suns meet up in the middle and create a more unified and homogenous whole.
Bradshaw’s Pottery (old Bridge End Pottery) 1770- 1886
My recently published book, The Last Potter of Black Burton, focussed on the pottery industry of Burton-in-Lonsdale from 1900 to its demise in 1944. Regrettably I left out the story of Bradshaw’s Pottery. The reasons for Bradshaw’s Pottery exclusion is that it closed in 1885 and it was really lost beyond the memory of the potters and people that I had interviewed and met over the last 40 or so years. The following article is an attempt to rectify this; and to try and build a larger picture of the history of pottery in Burton.
Bradshaw’s Pottery or Bridge End Pottery is the pottery with the prominent large round kiln in the foreground of the classic photograph of Burton-in-Lonsdale taken in 1870 (before the old Chapel of Ease, to right of the new church, was demolished).
Joseph Bradshaw built Bridge End Pottery or Bradshaw’s Pottery as it was better known in 1770 after working as a thrower at one of the other Burton potteries for a decade prior to this. Joseph was originally from Staffordshire where he learnt his craft. I have found the following references to Joseph Bradshaw and his Staffordshire connection;
“The Bridge End pottery, which is in the township of Bentham, was built about one hundred years ago by a Staffordshire man of the name of Bradshaw. The establishment is still carried on by his descendants Messrs J. and B. Bradshaw. The manufactured goods of all these potteries meet with a steady sale and they are sent through a wide district. The sale of the black ware is confined to the neighbourhood and a few places in Lancashire, Westmorland and Cumberland.” (Lancaster Guardian, 1875)
“Judging by family traditions, there seems to have been some distant connection with the great pottery industry which grew up in Staffordshire in the eighteenth century. It is said that Joseph Bradshaw, about 1760 came from Staffordshire” (Dalesman magazine, March 1949)
“Many inhabitants of the present day can have no idea of the smallness of wages at Burton-in-Lonsdale over 100 years ago. At that time a young man of the name Joseph Bradshaw came from Staffordshire to work at one of the Burton potteries, and as he was a skilful workman at his craft he secured the highest wages given at the establishment. Many a workman of the present day can earn more in nine and a half hours than he earned in seventy two hours. His standing wage was nine shillings a week. It is true provisions were much cheaper and his board and lodgings only amounted to two shillings and six pence per week. In consequence of a rise in provisions he had to pay an additional sixpence” (Lancaster Guardian, 1875)
Joseph was born in Staffordshire in 1736. It is possible that he was born at Norton le Moors (very close to Burslem, the heart of the Stoke pottery industry). The following extract from a family history suggests this could be the case using some rather clever detective work:
Joseph and Esther Bradshaw had eight children baptised in Thornton in Lonsdale between 1763 and 1780, the oldest being Sarah who married Robert Parker. Among the children were two sons by the name of Thomas, the first and last sons, but neither of them survived infancy. This may be an indication that Joseph Bradshaw’s father was Thomas Bradshaw, and a baptism has been found for a Joseph Bradshaw, son of Thomas and Sarah Bradshaw of Stoke parish who was baptised at Norton le Moors on 19th March 1737. However, further research would be needed to determine whether this was the correct baptism for Joseph Bradshaw, potter of Black Burton. (“The History of the Parker, Firth and Associated Families”, published by Julia Henderson, Acorn Family History Services, 2020)
According to the Dalesman magazine of 1949, Joseph moved to Burton around 1760, which would make him 24 years old at the time. The year prior to this event another Staffordshire potter of a similar age to Joseph founded a new pottery in Burslem, Staffordshire. His name was Josiah Wedgwood.
In 1762 Joseph married Esther Rumney, presumably a girl local to Burton;
“Joseph Bradshaw married Esther Rumney at St. Mary’s in Lancaster on 12th April 1762, the documentation for the grant of the marriage licence showing that he was “Joseph Bradshaw of Black Burton in the county of York, potter”….(“The History of the Parker, Firth and Associated Families”, published by Julia Henderson, Acorn Family History Services, 2020)
The question that really interests me is why would a young production thrower move one hundred or so miles from the ceramic heartland of Stoke-on-Trent to work in a pottery at Burton-in Lonsdale? Henry Bateson (son of the last potter of Burton) cites a reason for this this in the following extract:
“During the mid-1700s work practises in the Staffordshire potteries changed, using a casting method of pottery rather than a throwing method, leading to many throwers seeking work elsewhere. One such thrower was a Joseph Bradshaw. Joseph Bradshaw bought the site on Bentham Moor in 1770, and built a pottery.” (Henry Bateson writing in Glimpse of Burton’s Past, 2000)
The “casting method” of producing pots that Henry refers to is slip casting, where a liquid clay (slip) is poured into a plaster mould and left for 20 minutes or so (depending on the wall thickness required of the pot) to build up a layer/skim of clay (the cast) on the inside of the mould. The slip is then emptied out and the mould and cast are left to dry before being separated. According to Simeon Shaw (the history of Staffordshire potteries, 1829) plaster moulds were first shown to the Staffordshire potteries in 1743 and soon after the plaster mould techniques were learnt, adapted and put to use within the Staffordshire pottery industry. So it would seem that Henry Bateson’s argument has to be considered as it certainly fits the time-line. However slip cast pottery on an industrial scale wasn’t viable in the 18th century, because the potters had not worked out how to reduce the water content of the slip and suspend the clay particles in the water, a process known as deflocculation. Without adding deflocculant to the slip the clay would take a long time to absorb into the plaster mould due to the slip’s high water content, this high water content would also cause a high shrinkage rate of the resulting pots leading to cracking and excessive warping and the slip would separate into layers of clay and water in the mould causing uneven casts. Moulds had to be agitated to prevent this settling out and sometimes multiple casts of moulds had to be done to attain the right wall thickness. Effective methods of deflocculation (usually by adding sodium silicate to the slip) were only developed in the late 19th century (Mold Making for Ceramics, Donald E.Frith, 1985). Because of this problem, very little slip casting occurred during the 18th century. Instead of slip casting, press moulding became the standard method for use with plaster moulds during the 18th century. Press moulding involved rolling out slabs of clay and literally pressing them into the plaster moulds to create the cast. A new genre of potter was born, the presserman. Press moulding is a lot slower than throwing, so the presserman would only make pots that could not be formed on the wheel.
The only real threat to throwers in the 18th century came with the development of the jigger and jolly wheel. According to Donald E. Frith (Mold Making for Ceramics, 1985), “the jigger and jolly system was well established by the middle of the 18th century”. The jigger and jolly was a semi mechanical method of press moulding a pot. The presserman would press or roll out a weighed piece of clay to form a round disc, known as a bat. The bat would then be placed inside or on top of a plaster mould in a metal chuck that would rotate on a wheel. A template would then be lowered onto the mould and thus create the pot. These early jigger and jolly wheels though were not the sophisticated steam driven machines developed in the mid-19th century at the Wedgwood Etruria works. They would have been powered by a boy rotating a crank wheel. The templates were sometimes hand held or the potter’s hands forming the exposed surface with no template. Things improved when the template was fixed onto a lever. The missing link though for efficient production in the 18th century was the development of the “batter out” machine, also known as the “steam-spreader”. The batter out machine mechanically made the bat to be fed into the jigger and jolly thus making the presserman redundant and the whole process a lot faster. There was much worker resistance to the introduction of these machines when they were introduced in the 1860s (www.thepotteries.org)
The jigger and jolly machines took over the production of plates, cups and bowls from around the mid-18th Century (Donald E. Frith). However larger pots, enclosed forms and any pot that featured an undercut (so couldn’t easily be released from a mould) were the sole preserve of the thrower at this time, so the jigger and jolly machines didn’t represent a significant threat to a good production thrower. A fully trained production thrower could usually compete with a jigger and jolly machine producing the same product anyway, especially with these early machines. Richard Bateson (the last potter of Burton-in-Lonsdale) proved this in the mid-1940s when he was able to make one gallon bottles faster on a pottery wheel than a man operating a jigger and jolly machine making one gallon bottles.
The disadvantage of the jigger and jolly machines was a lot of moulds had to be made and stored for each shape. (Lots of moulds of the same shape were required as the pots had to be left in the mould to dry sufficiently before they could be released) whereas a thrower could repeat produce any shape with just his hands. The disadvantage of a production thrower was the amount of time it took to train them up, which would be anything from 5 to 10 years, whereas a relatively unskilled person could operate a jigger and jolly machine.
There is no doubt that the introduction of plaster moulds together with scientific and engineering advances eventually all but replaced the need for hand throwing on the potter’s wheel, but this happened very gradually over 200 or so years. The thrower still reigned supreme in the 18th century, as the technology and science were not yet ready to replace him. It wasn’t until the mid to late 19th century that the throwers were really beginning to feel the pinch. The following case of arbitration from 1891 is quoted in Harold Owen’s ‘The Staffordshire Potter’, written in 1901:
“The thrower’s case is an interesting one, and illustrates the great changes that have taken place in potting during the period covered by the great arbitrations in this trade. The thrower’s wheel – the first machine perhaps, in any industry – no longer occupies the prominent producing position it once did, for most of the articles that were made by the thrower are now taken away from the wheel, and are either pressed or made on the jigger. Seventy-five per cent of these have been taken away from him, and the articles left to him have been increased in size” (Workmen’s case, arbitration of 1891)
“Taking the thrower as an example, that which was formerly entirely done by the men is now done on the machine by women and boys equally well for the purposes of the manufacturer, and the result is that machinery drives out these men from positions which they previously held alone. If there were any added wage given to the thrower at the present time the result would be his extinction the more rapidly.” (Manufacturer’s case, arbitration of 1891.)
Interestingly Wedgwood does actually employ one thrower to this day. I met him when we visited Wedgwood in 2018.
The Staffordshire which Joseph Bradshaw left in the 1760s was definitely a boom town. John Ward talks about this with reference to pottery manufacture and the six towns that formed Stoke-upon-Trent in his book, ‘the Borough of Stoke-upon-Trent’ written in 1863:
“The rapid advance of the manufacturers, and the consequent increase of the population, reckoning from about the middle of the 18th Century, have, perhaps, not been surpassed relatively, during the same period, in any of the great trading and manufacturing towns and districts of England”
Between 1738 and 1785, the population of Stoke had risen from 4000 to 15000. By 1838 the population was 63000 (John Ward). The demand for pottery was increasing exponentially, which in turn meant more jobs and an influx of workers to fill them. The success of the potteries had a knock on effect for the region and economy as a whole. The industrial revolution was on the very cusp of happening. Steam engines were about to move into the factories. Canals were being built and planned around the country. Josiah Wedgwood, having been one of the main advocates and promotors of a canal connection to Staffordshire (particularly one that would pass his factory), cut the first sod of the Trent and Mersey Canal in Burslem in 1766.
Joseph Bradshaw was definitely moving against the tide leaving Staffordshire in 1760.
So given that it is very doubtful Joseph was forced out of work due to unemployment or even impending unemployment, we can only assume that he went to Burton voluntarily. Was Joseph actively sought after and poached by a Burton pottery in order to learn from him the presumably more advance techniques of the Staffordshire potters? Was he chased out of town by some estranged husband? Was the local constabulary after him for some misdemeanour? How did he even know that a pottery industry existed in Black Burton? Perhaps Esther Rumney was holidaying in the Staffordshire area in the 1750s, where she met and fell in love with Joseph Bradshaw? Okay, that one is very unlikely. Did people actually go on holidays in the 18th century and if they did, would they choose Staffordshire? I have found though throughout my life that unlikely events are sometimes just as likely to occur as likely events!
The best theory I can come up with for Joseph’s relocation is that one of the Burton potteries perhaps lost one of their main throwers and needed a replacement quickly. Presumably they couldn’t find a replacement in or around Burton, nor did they have the time or patience to wait the 5-10 years to train up a new production thrower. The Burton pottery in question possibly had a contact with a Staffordshire pottery or even a company in Staffordshire that supplied some of the sort after fine clays that were being imported to Staffordshire from Devon and Cornwall. The Burton Pottery thus dually dispatched a letter asking if they knew any thrower that would be interested in moving up to Burton. Somehow Joseph was approached regarding this. Joseph was perhaps a restless young man desperate to do the 18th century equivalent of a gap year and decided to take the bull by the horns and give it a go. After all he could always go back to Stoke if things didn’t work out. Well that is my best guess. If you can think of anything more plausible then please contact me. If you have in possession the diary of Joseph Bradshaw, potter of Black Burton then even better!
What the young Joseph Bradshaw thought on arriving in Burton-in-Lonsdale is anybody’s guess. Did he arrive by stage coach? Had he walked and hitched lifts on horses and carts? Did he just arrive with the shirt on his back? I am not sure which Burton pottery he worked at prior to building his pottery, it can’t have been Waterside Pottery, Greta Pottery or Greta Bank Pottery as these had yet to be built. I think it would have been one of the old established larger potteries, so probably Town End Pottery, or the Baggerley Pottery. I’m sure his Staffordshire accent would have been a great novelty to any Burtonians he encountered.
Joseph would have been employed making terracotta country ware pottery, perhaps with some slip decoration. This was the days before the demand for stoneware bottles. Despite the Lancaster Guardian article of 1875 claiming that wages around this time were very meagre, Joseph was able to save enough money to purchase land and build his own pottery after ten years of working in Burton. I can only imagine how delighted the owner of the Burton pottery was when Joseph announced he was going to leave and set up on his own in direct competition in the same village!
“1770 – Joseph Bradshaw paid £20 to Rowland Tatham for a parcel of ground situate lying and being on the south side of Burton Bridge (being part of the allotment which was set out for the said Rowland Tatham on Bentham Moor).” (From the deeds of Bridge End Cottage)
Interestingly the land Joseph bought was on the south side of the River Greta, which is actually in the township and parish of Bentham and not Burton, so in a way Joseph built the first Bentham Pottery.
Joseph named the pottery Bridge End Pottery and went into production around 1770. The previous year Josiah Wedgwood had opened his third pottery, the iconic Etruria Works.
Joseph would have continued producing country pottery wares as demanded by the locality, using the Burton black ware/terracotta clay dug open cast around Mill Hill (near Greeta House). A few shards of pottery have been dug up in the garden where the kiln of Bridge End Pottery once stood and they reveal terracotta clay with some white slip trailing and a lead glaze.
I would love to be able to point people in the direction of pottery wares directly attributable to Bridge End Pottery, but this is not possible as, typical to Burton, the pots were not stamped with the manufacturer’s name and as a result any piece of terracotta thought to be Burton could possibly have been made by the hands of Joseph Bradshaw.
Manufacturing pottery at this time would have been hard work. Steam engines didn’t arrive in Burton until the late 19th century. Digging and processing the clay would have been all done by hand. The potter’s wheel would have been turned via a crank by an assistant. Eight tons of coal would have to be shovelled into the kiln to fire it to the correct temperature for the lead glaze to melt. Candles and oil lamps would have provided the light source inside the pottery. Joseph would probably own a horse and cart for transporting pots to market. I would guess that six to eight people would have been employed in total. There is a great account written in the Lancaster Guardian of 1875, describing the pottery process at the Baggerley Pottery, which although written 100 years after Joseph Bradshaw built Bridge End Pottery, is probably very comparable.
I’m sure Joseph would have introduced the Burton potters to some new and different pottery techniques as a result of learning his craft in Staffordshire. Could he have possibly brought the tradition of making puzzle jugs to Burton? Did any other potters come to Burton from Staffordshire? The Burton potters of the early 20th century were certainly using Staffordshire pottery vocabulary to describe processes, for instance, “stouking” for attaching handles to pots, “setting” for placing the pots into the kilns to fire and “drawing” for taking the fired pots out of the kiln. Could these phrases have been a legacy of Joseph Bradshaw?
Joseph died at the age of 76 in 1812, which was a ripe old age for a potter at this time, especially for a potter working with a lead glaze. Joseph Bradshaw outlived Josiah Wedgwood by 17 years. Both men came from a similar background, both were dedicated to pottery, arguably with very different outcomes and achievements but none the less interesting lives.
Joseph passed on the pottery to his son, Robert Bradshaw. Robert worked the pottery with his brother Joseph (2) Bradshaw until 1822 when Robert died. Joseph (2) inherited one sixth of the pottery alongside Roberts’s children. Joseph (2) continued working the pottery with his son Thomas under a lease. Interestingly it looks like the potters diversified at this time and took on rope making as well as making pottery;
“Lease for a year. Dwelling house, called Bridge End House, with cow house, stable, pot kiln. Warehouses and other buildings, garden and orchard thereunto belonging. Also all those two workshops and warehouses now used for the purpose of carrying on the business of freckling and twine spinning together with a piece or parcel of ground now used as a ropewalk all which said premises are situated standing and being at Bridge End in the parish of Bentham and now in the possession of Joseph Bradshaw, yeoman” (from the deeds of Bridge End Cottage)
There was something of a cost of living crisis in 1825, caused by increases in the price of coal and lead that brought the three main earthenware manufacturers of Burton together to fix prices for certain wares. A document was drafted for this purpose. Joseph (2) Bradshaw’s name is included alongside John Bateson (Town End Pottery) and John Baggaley (Baggaley pottery).
On 3rd September 1835 Joseph’s (2) son Thomas Bradshaw bought Bridge End Pottery for the sum of £290. Thomas died in 1840, whereupon his brother John leased the pottery before taking on the mortgage for it on 12th August 1867. John Bradshaw then worked the pottery with his brother Benjamin Bradshaw.
The pottery left the Bradshaw family when it was sold on 31st December 1885. It was bought by Thomas Coates from the Baggeley Pottery on the opposite side of the river to Bridge End Pottery for the sum of £150. Thomas Coates immediately closed it as a pottery. This was probably a strategic step by Thomas to eliminate competition. Thomas converted the pottery into three cottages that still stand today. He sold the cottages in 1888 to Anne Eccles of Clifton Gloucester for the sum of £350.
I am grateful to Jane Burns for rekindling my interest in Bradshaw’s Pottery. Jane actually lives in one of the cottages that was formerly Bradshaw’s pottery and is an avid collector of Burton pots. Jane kindly provided me with the deeds of her house as source material for writing this. I have suggested to Jane that she should dig up the foundations of the pottery kiln, which should be all intact and buried in her back garden. Not only would this create an interesting and historic feature to her garden, but the digging would also reveal many shards of pots, all of which could be attributed to the Bradshaw family. You never know there might be an intact puzzle jug buried there! Alas, thus far my suggestion has fallen on deaf ears. I will keep trying.
Lee Cartledge, Bentham Pottery 2022
If you are interested in learning more about the history of Burton-in-Lonsdale and particularly the pottery industry, then you may be interested in the recently published “The Last Potter of Black Burton”, written by Lee Cartledge of Bentham Pottery. The book is available for purchase at the pottery (where you can get a signed copy), or on Amazon at (https://amzn.to/2VVHDzL)
The author has also put together a 4.5 mile walking guide around the sites of the former potteries of Burton, which is available here; https://www.benthampottery.com/burton-pottery-walk/
William Bateson 1826-1892 founder of Waterside Pottery Burton-in-Lonsdale
Having written the story of Waterside Pottery in my book “The Last Potter of Black Burton”, I decided to look a little further into the past to the origins of the company and particularly the man that initially had the vision for it, William Bateson, the grandfather of the Last Potter of Black Burton.
William Bateson was an important figure in the history of the Burton-in-Lonsdale pottery industry, as he founded Waterside Pottery, which was the largest of the Burton potteries, the most modern Burton pottery and the most likely Burton pottery to succeed into the 20th century and beyond. Indeed, with the correct foresight, planning, decisions and investment in the early part of the 20th century there is no reason why Waterside Pottery could not still be in business today.
One of the problems of writing about the Burton potteries is that the Bateson family had a fondness for calling their sons William, Richard or Thomas, which can lead to much confusion. I think they solved this problem at the time by using nicknames. It’s just a pity that the nicknames weren’t recorded in parish registers and census information. With this in mind I thought it would be helpful to include the following family tree starting with William’s great grandfather, Robert Bateson (thankfully not a Richard, William or Thomas!):
I never intended this essay to resemble a small book. I thought a single A4 sized essay on William Bateson, would be a nice prequel for my book “The Last Potter of Black Burton”. However events and research changed all this! The original version of this essay was small, that is until I met Julie Gabriel-Clarke from the Burton in Lonsdale Heritage Group whilst visiting a large Burton jug (the “Craven Heifer Jug”) in Bentham and she offered to do some research for me on William Bateson. Julie’s research proved to be detailed and amazing and revealed new aspects of William’s life that I was previously unaware of. She provided me with the bones to hang the flesh of the essay on and I am very grateful to her for this. So I guess I blame Julie to some extent for the length of this essay, although she isn’t solely to blame, because I came across a blog about a row of houses (Dandyrow.co.uk) opposite where Eccleshill Pottery, where William once worked, was located and I sent an email asking if they knew anything about Eccleshill Pottery, not even really expecting a reply. Eileen Cowan from Dandy Row did get back to me and provided me with a wealth of information on Eccleshill, Eccleshill Pottery and the history of the Handle’s Arms Inn, for which again I am very grateful, but this also expanded the essay. But really I suppose I’m just trying to shirk responsibility here as I guess the real culprit responsible for the length of this essay is myself and my fascination with the history of the Burton Potteries!
The Potter’s Arms Pottery
William’s family owned and ran the Potters Arms Pottery in Duke Street, Burton-in-Lonsdale. The Potters Arms Pottery comprised of a public house with a pottery in the back yard. The pub was run in conjunction with the pottery.
William’s great grandfather, Robert Bateson began the business around 1740, the pottery/pub then passed onto William’s grandfather, also called William Bateson. William’s grandfather died at the age of 63 in 1811 leaving a widow, Mary and three daughters and two sons. The youngest son was William’s father, Richard Bateson.
William’s Father Richard Bateson
For a time Mary ran the business. She struggled with the unruly behaviour of her two sons, Richard (William’s father) and Thomas. This was possibly exacerbated by the death of their father when they were still teenagers. Mary ended up, possibly in desperation, sending her boys to a relation with a pottery in Blackburn/ Darwen to give her a break and possibly to give the boys some moral direction, as well as learn a trade. I have three sources for this information:
“William Bateson (William’s grandfather) died in 1811, aged 63, “master potter and householder”, leaving a widow and three daughters, and two sons (Thomas and Richard) aged 19 and 16. His widow continued to manage the pottery for a time. It is said that Thomas and Richard were unruly lads, wringing their mother’s hands to get money!” (Dalesman magazine March 1949, volume 10)
“William Bateson (William’s grandfather) was born in 1748, took over the property from his father and ran the business until 1811 when he died, leaving a wife and two sons, Thomas and Richard. His wife was unable to control the boys and packed them off to Darwen, to their uncle’s pottery” (unpublished essay on the Burton potteries by R.T Bateson and H. Bateson)
“His widow Mary and sons Thomas and Richard then ran the works, as well as owning a public house called “The Potters Arms”. The sons worked in Blackburn for a period in the early 1820s then returned to Burton and ran the pottery until c 1860” (Yorkshire Pots and Potteries, Heather Lawrence.)
I have not been able to definitely identify the relation/uncle with a pottery in Darwen/Blackburn. I suspect that the pottery was Grimshaw Park Pottery in Blackburn, as that seems to be the only pottery producing country wares at that time in that area. Grimshaw Park Pottery was set up by John Riley (sometimes spelt Ryley) in the early 19th century. I have not been able to determine if John Riley is related to the Batesons.
So it would appear that the young Richard (William’s father) and brother Thomas were sent to this relation/uncle for a period of rehabilitation. I have no doubt that this relation, presumably having made his own way in life, would have been ideal for handing out discipline and employment to two unruly lads and I’m sure he would have guided them back onto the straight and narrow path! Indeed, William’s father Richard seems to have thrived in this environment. I’m not sure how long Mary intended her boys to stay away from Burton, but Richard remained in Blackburn/Darwen into his early thirties. Around the 1820’s it seems Richard decided to branch out and open his own pottery. He rented a farm in Eccleshill (close to Darwen) and built a kiln on the site and ran a pottery and farm in tandem.
“It must be noted that potteries opened elsewhere in Lancashire during this period, most notably in the Blackburn district. Here, an enclosure map of 1774 records the pottery at Broadfield, Oswaldtwistle, and by the early nineteenth century John Riley had opened Grimshaw Park Pottery in Blackburn. By the mid-1820s potteries were also working at Eccleshill, south-east of Blackburn, where Richard Bateson was the proprietor, and at Gaulkthorn, Oswaldtwistle, which was leased to John Riley. Both made black earthenware. Despite the decline of the Liverpool potteries, therefore, the Lancashire pottery industry still progressed, employing 500 people in 1841.” (Made in Lancashire: A History of Regional Industrialisation By Geoffrey Timmins, Steve Timmins)
“Eccleshill Pottery – Started c1824 by Richard Bateson of Grimshaw Park Pot House, Blackburn. The pottery produced tiles, chimney pots, firebricks and earthenware from clay extracted on site.” (A Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of Darwen, Including Hoddlesden, Yate & Pickup Bank, Eccleshill and Tockholes by Mike Rothwell)
Richard’s choice of Eccleshill as a location for a pottery would have been based on the following facts:
Clay was available on the site – In the 19th century this was a prerequisite for a pottery.
The site was rural – country potteries were predominately on the outskirts of towns, because of the smoke from firing the kilns.
Accessibility to coal – no problem here, as there was plenty of coalmines around Blackburn and Darwen within easy reach.
Access to a good market for selling wares – Richard would have known the market well after working at Grimshaw Park Pottery in Blackburn.
Affordability of the site – pottery was never a quick route to wealth, unless your name was Josiah Wedgewood!
According to the above article Richard would have made black earthenware (usually referred to as blackware), which was terracotta clay with a dense black lead glaze and was very popular at this time. I suspect Richard would have also made pots with a white slip decoration, in the Burton tradition.
Richard must have kept in contact with Burton-in-Lonsdale, as he went on to marry (and confuse Burton historians!) his cousin’s daughter Alice Bateson, from Burton. Alice was the daughter of John Bateson who ran Town End Pottery in Burton. Richard and Alice married on the 25th May 1825 at St John’s Church Preston. The wedding certificate states that Richard was resident in “Eccleshill in the parish of Blackburn” at the time of the marriage.
William Bateson was born in Eccleshill in 1826 and was their only son. They subsequently went on to have six daughters. William was baptised at Lower Chapel, Eccleshill in March 1826.
Shortly after the baptism of William the family moved back to Burton-in-Lonsdale and Richard took over The Potters Arms Inn. According to the land tax records, Richard Bateson was renting the Potters Arms Inn from his mother Mary Bateson in 1826. In 1831 Richard was renting the “house and pottery” from his mother. I’m not sure what prompted the move back to Burton, perhaps Richard and Alice wanted their children to be brought up in their home village, or maybe Richard’s mother Mary just offered a good deal in terms of rent to lure her new grandchild back to Burton?
William Bateson’s Early Life
By the time William was born the extended Bateson family were deeply intermeshed in the Burton potteries, with William’s uncles running Town End Pottery, Greta Pottery and Blaeberry Pottery.
William would have begun to learn the craft of pottery from his father at an early age. The pottery would have made traditional lead glazed terracotta country ware. The clay would most likely have been dug at Mill Hill in Burton. The pots would have possibly been decorated with white slip or even a black glaze (black-ware). This would have been in the days when the wheels were powered by a crank at the front of the wheel. I can imagine William spending a lot of his youth turning such a crank, so his father could make pots. I’m sure a lot of the children of potters learnt how to throw by endlessly watching their fathers throw whilst they provided the power for the wheel.
William probably had little choice in his career path. The sons of potters were expected to become potters themselves (and Richard Bateson only had the one son). Thankfully, as his life turned out, it seemed a good choice.
In the 19th century, it took a minimum of eight men (and one horse) to run a country pottery and stand any chance of making a living from it. It wasn’t like today, when one or two people can do the job. There was simply too much work to do for less than eight men when all the processes were done by hand and a lot of team work was required. The steam engine didn’t come to Burton until later in the century.
William would have been involved in the whole process, from digging the clay, processing the clay, powering the wheels, throwing the pots, glazing the pots, filling the kiln, shovelling the 10 tons of coal into the fire-mouths to fire the kiln, unloading the pots, packing the pots, selling the pots and looking after the horse and cart that were required for collecting the clay and coal as well as transporting the pots. And if that was not enough they still had a public house to run! It must have been a balancing act at times.
William would have been passed from pillar to post, from workman to workman to learn all aspects of the job and I’m sure that he would have also worked at his uncles’ potteries in Burton at times.
I suspect that they sold their pots to local markets, such as Kendal and Kirkby Lonsdale, as well as supplying some shops and dealing with customers direct from their pottery (as Bentham Pottery do today). It probably helped running a pub at the same time as running a pottery, as a potential pottery customer may have strayed into the pub first and plied with a bit of alcohol they may have found that their purse strings were somewhat looser than they intended. Also customers to the pub may have unsuspectedly ended up as pottery customers, leaving the premises with more than just a belly full of ale and a pickled egg supper! I wonder how many drunkards left the pub with a nice pot in a bid to appease an angry spouse the next morning. I also wonder how many pots were broken on the way home. I can’t help thinking that an early version of the “Great Pottery Throw-down” must have played out one night at the Potters Arms.
Richard undoubtedly paid his workers over the bar on a Friday night. This was common practise where pottery owners also owned pubs. The Baggaley family who ran the Baggaley Pottery as well as the Punch Bowl Inn in Burton certainly did this and I have heard this was the case with some of the potteries of Stoke-on-Trent. This must have been an excellent way of “recycling“ the wages.
The Potters Arms Inn and Pottery were actually owned by one Richard Wilkinson of Westhouse (near Ingleton). Richard’s mother, Mary, sublet the premises to him. Mary sadly passed away in 1833 at the age of 77. Richard Wilkinson died in 1835 and he was rather generous to Richard Bateson in his will:
“Also unto Richard Bateson the sum of £5 (equal £830 today) yearly for the term of his natural life. It is also my will and mind and I do hereby order and direct my trustees or the survivor of them of the Heirs, Executors or Administrators of such survivor do permit and suffer the aforesaid Richard Bateson to hold retain and keep the Mortgage Deeds belonging to the Potters Arms within Burton in Lonsdale aforesaid with all and singular the Pot Kiln, Workshops, Barn Stable and all other appurtenances thereto belonging and transfer the said Deeds unto him, he the said Richard Bateson yielding and paying unto them the amounts of the Mortgage with all and every expense with which I may have been connected with or concerning the said premises or any part thereof by Instalments yearly and every year the sum of thirty five pounds ( £5800 today) without any rent or interest whatever and that the said sum of thirty five pounds be divided along with the rents, and profits of my Real Estate as aforesaid.” (Richard Wilkinson’s will 17th January 1835, Richard Bateson is listed as one of theappointed trustees/executors)
So Richard inherited the deeds of the Potters Arms Inn and Pottery along with the outstanding mortgage as well as a yearly allowance for the rest of his life. I have tried to work out what the relationship was between Wilkinson and the Batesons, but have seemingly come up against a brick wall. I suspect that they were blood relations, but I haven’t been able to prove this. All I can say is that Richard Bateson seems to have done rather well out of the matter!
Over time, William became a fully proficient country potter and started to put roots down. William married Nanny Metcalf on the 18th May 1853 in Kirkby Lonsdale. Nanny was born in Ingleton from farming stock. Their first three children Robert, Richard and Henry were all born in Burton-in-Lonsdale (all three went on to become potters).
In the ordinary scheme of things I’m sure William would have inherited the Potters Arms Pottery from his father and continued to run it before eventually passing it onto his sons. However this didn’t happen due to an unfortunate event that changed everything. William’s father, Richard, had the misfortune to lose his entire property, both the pottery and the pub as the result of having stood surety for some money (The Dalesman magazine March 1949). Sadly the Dalesman article doesn’t go into any details about this.
A possibility as to how Richard lost the Potters Arms may be gleaned from events at Town End Pottery around this time. Town End Pottery was run by William’s uncle (on his mother’s side, not his Dad’s brother) Thomas Bateson. In1855 Thomas was declared bankrupt and indeed he was sent to debtor’s prison at Lancaster Castle for a time. This unfortunate incident played out over a few months and is recorded in the following newspaper articles:
The London Gazette, 3rd April 1855 states “Thomas Bateson, late of Burton-in-Lonsdale, Lancashire, out of business.-In the Gaol of Lancaster” is to attend a “Court for Relief of Insolvent Debtors. Saturday the 31st day of March 1855”
The London Gazette, 8th June 1855, states that “The following PRISONERS, whose Estates and Effects have been vested in the provisional Assignee by order of the court for Relief of Insolvent Debtors, are ordered to be brought up before the Judges of the said courts respectively, as herein set forth, to be dealt with according to law:”………”Thomas Bateson, formerly of the Town End Pottery, Burton-in-Lonsdale, near Hornby, Lancashire, Earthenware Manufacturer, and late a lodger in Burton-in-Lonsdale aforesaid, out of business”
Perry’s Bankrupt Gazette June 16, 1855, states that a hearing for “Bateson Thomas, of Burton-in-Lonsdale, earthenware manufacturer” is to be held 22nd June 1855.
The London Gazette, 6th July, states that Thomas Eastham, an Assigner (court official who is responsible for dealing with a bankrupt person’s assets and paying their debts as well as checking on their actions) has been appointed for Thomas Bateson.
The repercussions of this bankruptcy were still going on four years later when The London Gazette of 15 July 1859 reports on a court case looking into the debts of Thomas Bateson’s father who died 17 years previously, making me wonder if poor Thomas Bateson inherited the debts of his father?
Could Richard have stood surety for Thomas’s debts at Town End Pottery in the hope that Thomas would be able to raise capital and avoid going bankrupt? If this was the case then it’s hard not to see some honour in Richard’s decision, erroneous as it was. Unfortunately I have no proof of this, so Richard may well have put all his property up for a fool’s errand arranged late one drunken night in the Potter’s Arms Inn!
The Potter’s Arms Inn and Pottery were put up for auction in 1856.The following advert appeared in the Westmorland Gazette:
To Be Sold By Auction
At the House of Mr. Richard Bateson, the Potters’ Arms Inn, in Burton-in-Lonsdale, on Thursday, the 27th day of November instant, at six o’clock in the evening, either altogether or in the following Lots, and subject to such Conditions as shall be then produced,
Lot 1.-All that old-established and well-accustomed Inn or PUBLIC HOUSE, known by the sign of the POTTERS’ ARMS, situate in the Town of BURTON-IN-LONSDALE, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, together with the Brewhouse, Barn, Stables, Shippon, Yard, Garden, and Appurtenances thereunto belonging, and now in the possession of Mr. Richard Bateson.
Lot 2.-All that valuable POT KILN, with WORKSHOPS, WAREHOUSES, and other Appendages, together with the Ground adjoining the same containing about Twenty Perches, Customary Measure, situate behind the Potters’ Arms Inn, and now in the occupation of Messieurs Richard and William Bateson.
The Property is a Freehold Tenure, and in good repair; and in the Ground belonging to the Pottery are two excellent wells of pure water, to one of which a pump is attached. The Workshops are also spacious and commodious, measuring in length Thirty-two Yards and in breadth Eight Yards.
There is likewise attached to the Pottery a right of getting Clay upon the valuable Clay Allotments appropriated to the staple Manufacture of Burton upon the inclosure of the Commons and Wastes of the surrounding district.
In case they should not be Sold, the above Premises will, in the course of the same Evening, be Let either altogether or separately, and either from year to year or for a term, to be entered upon at May Day next.
Further information and particulars may be known by applying to the said Richard Bateson, or at the Office of Mr. Eastham, Solicitor, Kirkby Lonsdale.
The following notice was placed in the Lancaster Gazette 27 June 1857:
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN,
That the partnership heretofore subsisting between the undersigned RICHARD BATESON and WILLIAM BATESON, carrying on business as Stoneware Bottle Manufacturers, at Burton-in-Lonsdale, in the County of York, under the style or firm of “Richard Bateson and Sons,” was this day DISSOLVED, by mutual consent; and all Debts owing to and from the said Firm will be collected and paid by the said William Bateson, who will still carry on the business.
As witness our hands, this 17th day of June 1857,
Witness Jno. Thornber. (Lancaster Gazette 27 June 1857)
When I first came across this, I dismissed it thinking it related to Greeta Pottery in Burton, which indeed was a manufacturer of stoneware bottles. The Potters Arms Pottery by contrast was known for being a traditional earthenware country pottery. The owner of Greeta Pottery was another William Bateson (William’s Uncle) and he did have a son called Richard (William’s cousin) however closer scrutiny reveals that the company name in the above newspaper article is “Richard Bateson and Son”, had it been Greeta Pottery, then it would have had to be “William Bateson and Sons” so it can only really be our William and his father running this business. This highlights the absolute confusion of having a lot of Batesons in the same village with the same name following the same profession!
So it would appear that The Potters Arms was following market trends and had moved away from earthenware country pottery and had started making stoneware bottles around this time. This represents something of a Burton-in-Lonsdale historical scoop, as none of the history books mention this.
William and his father’s decision to move away from traditional terracotta country ware and produce stoneware bottles would have been based upon the fact that there was a large demand for stoneware bottles from the 1840s onwards and more importantly, they would have witnessed Greeta Pottery, Greta Bank Pottery and Blaeberry Pottery all in Burton and all successfully making a living producing stoneware bottles. It is just such a great pity that they had to sell up, as the business seemed to be moving in the right direction and I’m sure they would have done well making stoneware bottles in Burton at this time. I wonder where they were sourcing the stoneware clay?
The property was bought by James Fothergill. The pottery was converted into a joiner’s yard. The pub sadly changed its name to the Joiners Arms to reflect this new business.
I am not sure when the joiner’s yard closed, but the Joiners Arms was still going in the early 1980s and was one of the first pubs I ever drank a pint in (it was an easy walk from Bentham Pottery).
Eccleshill Pottery Revisited
With the loss of the Potters Arms Pottery, William was forced to find work elsewhere. Surprisingly it seems that the whole family including William’s father and mother upped sticks and moved to Darwen, Lancashire and William took over Eccleshill Pottery.
I’m not sure how the move to Darwen came about? I can understand that having lost both the pub and the pottery the family just wanted a completely new beginning. I guess the fact that William’s father had previously run Eccleshill Pottery must have been an influential factor in making this decision and that some contact with Eccleshill Pottery had been maintained.
Eccleshill Pottery had passed on to at least two other owners after Richard Bateson. According to Mike Rothwell (A Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of Darwen), John Beswick and Ormerod Holden had run Eccleshill Pottery after Richard. Further enquiries via an Eccleshill blog (Dandyrow.co.uk) revealed that John Beswick had apparently also run the pub, the Handel’s Arms just over the road from the pottery, having married Peggy the landlady. When John Beswick died in 1843 at the age of 41, Ormerod Holden married John Beswick’s wife Peggy and continued to run the pub and pottery. The following advert appeared in the Preston Chronicle in 1853:
To BE LET, that old established and well accustomed PUBLIC HOUSE called the “Handel’s Arms Inn,” with 16 acres, 2 roods and 12 perches of excellent Meadow and Pasture Land, with suitable outbuildings, together with an Earthenware Pottery, comprising large kiln (lately erected,) working and drying sheds, colour-room, ware-room, and numerous other conveniences, with a good bed of potters’ clay adjoining, all in the occupation of Mr. Ormrod Holden, and situate at Eccleshill, distant three miles from Blackburn. On application, John Benson, of Eccleshill Colliery, will point out the boundaries of the premises and give further particulars. Tenders will be received until Saturday the 31st of December instant, by Mr. George Hunt, Land Agent, Preston.
This must have seemed like the Potters Arms in exile to the Bateson family! I don’t think William rented the pub, but he did rent Eccleshill Pottery. This would have happened around 1857. The following advert from the Preston Guardian of 1858 announces Eccleshill Pottery had opened for business under new ownership:
STONEWARE BOTTLE WORKS, OVER DARWEN.
WILLIAM BATESON begs to give notice, that he has commenced making spirit jars, porter bottles, ginger beer bottles, and all other kinds of stoneware on the above premises. He also feels grateful to those friends who have favoured him with their support, and hopes, by manufacturing a good article, to merit a continuance of their orders.
Tiles for malt and corn kilns made to order (Preston Chronicle 14 August 1858)
Eccleshill Pottery had originally been set up for the production of earthenware country pottery. William though wanted to produce stoneware bottles. This meant that he had to rebuild or even build another kiln as stoneware fires 200 degrees higher than terracotta and so needs a different kiln design to achieve this temperature. William was helped in this rebuild/building of the kiln by his cousin (another Richard!) whose father ran Greeta Pottery in Burton-in Lonsdale (Dalesman magazine). It is possible that this cousin stayed on at Eccleshill Pottery and worked for William.
William’s parents, Richard and Alice moved to the centre of Darwen. Alice sadly died in 1858 at the age of 62 and you can’t help thinking that her demise may in part be due to the stress of losing everything and having to move away from Burton.
The 1861 census finds William, as a 35 year old, as the head of the household at Eccleshill Pottery. He is listed as a potter and farmer employing seven men and one boy. The same census finds Richard (William’s father) living with his daughter at Cotton Hall Darwen. He is listed as a potter and I suspect he must have been working for William at Eccleshill Pottery.
“Eccleshill Pottery….The last records of the works appears in the mid 1860’s when William Bateson was making stone bottles at the site.” (A Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of Darwen, Including Hoddlesden, Yate & Pickup Bank, Eccleshill and Tockholes by Mike Rothwell)
The search for the location of Eccleshill Pottery
A Google Street View of Eccleshill proves to be very interesting. Eccleshill is a very small collection of houses and farms. In the middle of Eccleshill there is a gated driveway with “Pottery Farm” painted on the gate. More interestingly still, there is a large round stone with a hole in the middle, with “Pottery Farm” carved into it. Could this stone have been excavated from an old pottery blunger and upcycled? Mike Rothwell (A Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of Darwen) states that Eccleshill Pottery was “situated to the rear of the Handel’s Arms public house”. The Handel’s Arms closed in 2002. I was able to find an old photo of it on Google and this photo matches exactly (minus the public house signs) with the building to the right of Pottery Farm, proving that Pottery Farm is indeed the former location of Eccleshill Pottery.
Today, Pottery Farm is a prize winning alpaca farm that trades as Pottery Alpacas. I’d like to think that William Bateson was responsible for introducing alpaca farming to the country, but I think this is unlikely. The “pottery-cum–farm” as described in the Dalesman article was likely to have been a small holding with a few animals mainly providing food for the family.
I have contacted the present owner of Pottery Farm via Facebook and they do occasionally get people approaching them wanting to look for bottles and pots on the land. They also confirmed that the large round stone outside his driveway was found on the land whilst renovating the house, so it is very likely pottery related? I suspect a blunger stone, a glaze grinder or possibly even a fly wheel?
Shaws of Dawen, Waterside
Adjacent to Eccleshill (Darwen) is another small hamlet called Waterside which is an interesting name to any Burton Pottery historian. Could William have named Waterside Pottery, Burton after this Waterside? Waterside near Darwen is famous for having a very successful pottery factory, still in business today. Shaws of Darwen have made ceramic sinks for the last 125 years at their factory in Waterside. They didn’t invent the Belfast sink, but their factory has been making Belfast sinks for longer than any other pottery. Shaws of Darwen began in business when the son of a local coalmine owner discovered that a by-product of his father’s coal mine was a rather fine fireclay. He decided to utilise this material and base a business around it. Shaws of Darwen began in 1897 and expanded in 1908 with the building of their factory at Waterside. This all happened 30 or so years after Eccleshill Pottery though. However it does prove the suitability of Eccleshill for pottery manufacture and the availability of stoneware clay in the area. Also I feel that the close proximity of Shaws of Darwen to Eccleshill Pottery could have had important ramifications if business at Eccleshill Pottery had continued into the 20th Century. I will revisit this point later.
The return to Burton-in-Lonsdale
William and Nanny had seven children. The first three were born in Burton whilst William was still working with his father at the Potters Arms Pottery; the remaining children were born in Eccleshill. Nanny sadly died in 1866 at the age of 37 and I can only imagine that she died in childbirth, with the child surviving the birth, as their last daughter was born in the same year (1866) and very tellingly was named Nanny after her mother. This event must have been devastating for the entire family and it seems that this tragedy was the catalyst for William’s return to Burton-in-Lonsdale.
William would have been 40 years old when Nanny died. He was left with a young family of seven children, the oldest being 12 years old. I can only guess that his decision to return to Burton-in-Lonsdale was based upon a need to return to his wider family and familiar small village to help him bring up his children. I can’t imagine how hard it was giving up everything they had built up at Eccleshill Pottery. Without this sad event though, there would have been no Waterside Pottery in Burton-in-Lonsdale.
Nanny was buried at, St James Church, Over Darwen 17th June 1866.
William, now aged 42, moved back to Burton-in-Lonsdale sometime around 1868 (unpublished essay on the Burton potteries by R.T Bateson and H.Bateson).
William’s father Richard also moved back from Darwen. The 1871 census records Richard living in Lancaster with his daughter. He is listed as an “unemployed potter”. Richard very sadly died in 1872 at the age of 77. He was buried in Burton-in-Lonsdale.
Eccleshill Pottery under William Bateson would have lasted for approximately 10 years, from 1858 to about 1868.
Greta Bank Pottery and Blaeberry Pottery
Once back in Burton, William found work at Greta Bank Pottery, which was owned by James Parker who at the time was mainly producing stoneware bottles. William worked as the foreman at Greta Bank Pottery and did a lot of “travelling” for James. I think “travelling” implies that he went on the road to source potential customers and acquire orders. This would have proved very useful networking for future business.
William rented Blaeberry Pottery from his uncle, John Bateson. Blaeberry Pottery hadn’t been used for a number of years and was semi derelict. The kiln, known affectionately as “old Timothy” was in a state of disrepair and needed major renovations. Outside of work hours, William and his sons, started to repair the kiln and get the pottery ready for production. William and family were all resident at Blaeberry Pottery by the time the 1871 census was recorded.
“He saved all the money he could, and rented for £20 a year, Blaeberry Pottery, which had belonged to John and Elizabeth Bateson (John was William’s uncle), which was now in ruins. He lived in the dwelling-house which was then attached to the pottery. During the evenings, William, with his boys, re-built the pottery, which he eventually bought, re-naming it Waterside” (Dalesman magazine March 1949, volume 10)
Blaeberry Pottery was something of a “potters paradise”, as it had opencast coal and open cast stoneware clay in the field adjacent to the pottery, so fuel and materials were effectively free. Added to this, there was a steady supply of water, courtesy of the River Greta, which ran directly past the pottery.
I’m not sure how long William worked at Greta Bank Pottery, or when the first kiln was fired at Blaeberry Pottery. It’s possible that in the early days, William worked at Greta Bank Pottery at the same time as running Blaeberry Pottery? The 1871 census states that William is at “Blaeberry Pottery in Low Bentham Ward employing 4 men 2 boys and 3 bottle casers”, which would imply that Blaeberry Pottery was in production at this time.
William’s sons, Robert, Richard (yet another Richard!) and Henry all worked for their dad. William’s third son Henry, or Harry as he was always known was a natural on the pottery wheel. Harry went on to become a phenomenal thrower. In his prime, Harry was able to throw 120 six-gallon bottles in a day. The weight of a ball of clay required to make a six-gallon bottle is 66lbs! I mention this in my book “The Last Potter of Black Burton”, but I feel it is worthy of another mention here.
The company William Bateson and Sons was formed sometime in the early 1870s. William also changed the name of Blaeberry Pottery to Waterside Pottery around this time.
The 1881 census states that William is resident at Waterside Pottery employing 9 men and his eldest three sons are described as “Father’s assistants”.
Around the mid-1880s, James Parker decided to sell Greta Bank Pottery. I’m not sure what James’s reason was for this. It’s possible that James just wanted to retire and had no natural heir to the pottery? It’s also feasible that James realised the “Tour de Force” that was William Bateson and Sons and decided to quit whilst he was still ahead?
I feel sure that the sale of Greta Bank came as a surprise to William. I think William realised that the sale was too good an opportunity to miss, as it would effectively eliminate competition at the same time as acquiring all of Greta Bank Pottery’s customers.
William Bateson and Sons bought Greta Bank Pottery from James Parker in 1887.
“James Parker worked the pottery (Greta Bank Pottery) until 1887, when it was bought by William Bateson who had worked and travelled for James since his return from Darwen about 1870” (unpublished essay on the Burton potteries by R.T. Bateson and H. Bateson)
William Bateson and Sons finally bought Waterside Pottery in 1888 after renting it for many years.
It is testament to the strength of the stoneware bottle industry at this time that William Bateson and Sons were able to persuade the banks to allow them mortgages on two potteries within a year of each other.
For at least a decade William Bateson and sons ran Waterside Pottery and Greta Bank Pottery in tandem.
The 1891 census records William at the age of 65 living at Chapel Lane, Burton-in-Lonsdale, with his occupation being “Living on own means”. This would suggest that he had retired from pottery at this time and left his sons to run the business.
Sadly, William died at the age of 66 on 20th April 1892, leaving behind him a pottery legacy and a seemingly secure future for his family. William was buried at All Saints Church in Burton-in-Lonsdale. William left £1958 14s. 7d in his will which is approximately £298k in today’s money and must have been a considerable fortune for a potter from Burton.
“This is the last will and testament of me William Bateson of Burton in Lonsdale in the county of York, pot manufacturer. I revoke all other wills heretofore made by me and appoint my sons Robert, Henry and Frank Metcalf trustees and executors of this my will. I give and bequeath to my grandson William Bateson my gold watch and chain for his own use. I direct that my daughter Nanny shall have the use of my household furniture and effects for the term of her life provided she shall so long remain unmarried and from and after her decease or marriage I direct that the same shall fall into and form part of my residuary estate hereinafter mentioned. I give and bequeath the following pecuniary legacies, that is to say: to my son Richard four hundred pounds, to my daughter Hannah More nine hundred pounds, to my said daughter Nanny ten hundred pounds subject to the payment of my debts, funeral and testamentary expenses and all the pecuniary legacies heretofore bequeathed. I give devise and bequeath all the rest residue and remainder of my estate real and personal whatsoever and wheresoever unto and to the use of my said sons, Robert, Henry and Frank Metcalf in equal shares as tenants in common provided always and upon the express condition that the said sons allow my said daughter Nanny during her life or until her marriage should she desire to do so to occupy the dwelling house and premises which I now occupy free of rent in witness whereof I have this my last will and testament set my hand this twenty ninth day of December one thousand eight hundred and ninety one. William Bateson” (will and last testament of William Bateson 29/12/1891)
William’s sons Robert, Henry and Frank carried on the business at Waterside Pottery, introducing a steam engine and then expanding the pottery around 1900-1905 from one to three kilns to cope with the demand for stoneware bottles. Waterside Pottery went on to become the largest and arguably the most successful Burton pottery, particularly from the 1890s up to the First World War. The story of Waterside Pottery is available in my book, “The Last Potter of Black Burton”.
William Bateson recovered from two traumatic incidents in his life that he had little control over; Firstly, the loss of the Potters Arms Pottery and then later losing his wife and having to give up Eccleshill Pottery. The fact that he was able to successfully begin again after both of these events shows the remarkable mettle of the man and I am left wondering what he could have achieved without these two setbacks?
But for the death of a mother, Eccleshill Pottery would have continued. William Bateson and Sons would surely still have been formed but Waterside Pottery in Burton-in-Lonsdale would never have existed. How would Eccleshill Pottery have fared in this alternative future? I suspect if they continued making stoneware bottles, they would have prospered up until the First World War and then they would have started to slowly decline, as happened at Waterside Pottery. The question is would being in a different location have influenced the choices they made to prevent this decline in trade happening and secure the future of the pottery. Ironically a possible solution was literally three fields away behind Eccleshill Pottery. Shaws of Darwen were using the exact technology that Eccleshill Pottery would have needed to invest in to stay in business as an industrial pottery beyond the 1920s. Shaws were working with plaster moulds and slip casting. They would have employed mould makers, pottery engineers, kiln builders and designers and, I suspect, would have had strong links with the potteries of Stoke–on-Trent. At their peak in the 1920s Shaws were employing 600 people on a 26 acre site. Surely Eccleshill Pottery would have been influenced, by what was literally going on in their backyard and picked up on the advantages of plaster moulds and possibly poaching some of Shaws’ employees? It is also not beyond the realms of possibility that Eccleshill Pottery and Shaws of Darwen could have collaborated, after all their wares were not in direct competition. Perhaps in an alternative future, Shaws and Batesons of Darwen, Waterside, would exist, producing bespoke sinks and tableware.
When writing about events that happened so far in the past it is inevitable that mistakes and miss-interpretations can be made. For me the only Achilles heel of this essay is that I have been unable to find any details of the relation/uncle that had a pottery in Blackburn/Darwen. I have credited William’s father with building Eccleshill Pottery, however there is a possibility that the relation/ uncle may have built it, if his name was also Richard Bateson (not an uncommon name within the Bateson family!). Suffice to say that William’s father was sent to live and work at a relation’s pottery in or near Darwen as a young man and ended up working at Eccleshill Pottery, which he may have built. Further research may reveal more…..
I would have struggled to write this without the research provided by Julie Gabriel-Clarke of Burton-in-Lonsdale and Eileen Cowan of Eccleshill and I would like to thank them here for all their efforts. I also found the following two articles invaluable; the Dalesman article of 1949 and the unpublished essay on the Burton potteries by R.T. Bateson and H. Bateson. The Dalesman based their article around the reminiscences of William’s youngest daughter, Nanny who would have been 82 years old at the time the article was published.
I am grateful to Jeremy Bradshaw and Sue Ellis (both descendants of William Bateson) for the following:
William Bateson (1826-1892) had 7 children with his wife Nanny Metcalfe (1829-1866).
Robert Bateson (1855-1908) – Born in Burton. Married Susan Jane Kidd and had 6 children. Robert split from William Bateson and Sons in 1902, because he didn’t think the company was moving in the right direction. He sold his share: and bought and ran Greeta Pottery until his untimely death in 1908.
Richard Bateson (1856-1934) – Born in Burton. Married Catherine Rooney and had two children in 1896 and 1898 in the USA. Richard’s occupation on the 1881 census is described as”Father’s assistant (Stone bottle)”. He obviously then chose to move away from pottery.
Henry Bateson (1858-1922) – Born in Burton. Married Alice Timperley. Father of Richard Timperley Bateson (The Last Potter of Black Burton). Henry was the main thrower and joint owner of Waterside Pottery.
Martha Alice Bateson – (1861-1890) – Born Eccleshill, Lancashire
Hannah More Bateson – (1862-1945) – Born Eccleshill, Yorkshire (it is possible that Yorkshire is a mistake on the 1881 census)
Frank Bateson – (1864-1938) – born Eccleshill, Lancashire. Married Mary Ann Triffit. Joint owner of Waterside Pottery with his brother Henry
Nanny Bateson – (1866-1959) Born Eccleshill, Lancashire.
Gladstone wheel review – G30 Gladstone Classic wheel (£3102, price includes delivery and adding wheel studs) – 7/10
We bought a new wheel this summer (2021). I thought it would be good to review it here and update the review over the next few years.
We’ve always thrown on Alsager wheels at Bentham Pottery. Our two Alsager wheels were bought in the 1970s and have so far both had over 40 years of use in a production pottery. I think we have had them serviced twice. I have been doing quite a lot of teaching recently and so decided to get another wheel as a backup in case one of our Alsager wheels is ever out of action.
I would have definitely bought another Alsager wheel, however, unfortunately they are no longer in production, so I did some research and bought what I thought was the next best thing, a Gladstone wheel.
I have always liked throwing on tall upright wheels, like the Alsager wheel. To me these wheels look like “how a wheel ought to look” (in my opinion). I’ve never got on with the “shimpo type” wheels, as I feel a bit hunched over them. They have always made me feel like an adult sat on a child’s tricycle! The Gladstone wheel was the closest I could find in dimensions to an Alsager wheel.
The Gladstone engineering wheel that I eventually chose is the G30 Gladstone Classic. This is definitely one of Gladstone’s more expensive wheels. My reason for choosing the G30 Gladstone Classic over their other wheels is that it features an adjustable seat that looked as though it could be adjusted quickly and easily. I have always felt that having an adjustable seat would be an advantage, as depending on what you are doing on the wheel you can get more comfortable by being able to make small adjustments to seat height. Also I thought it could be useful for teaching, as I would be able to raise the seat higher or lower to enable people of different heights to throw easier.
The G30 Gladstone Classic cost me £3102 in total. The £2 narked me slightly. Perversely I’d have rather paid £3200 as at least I would have been under the illusion that the price had been reduced to the nearest £100! The wheel was actually £2892 – adding studding to take my wooden bats cost £108 and delivery was £102.
I felt that £108 to add two studs into the wheel head was possibly a bit overpriced, considering the cost of the wheel. However they did a good job with it and the studs fitted perfectly into my wooden throwing bats.
Delivery is to the kerb and not into the building. Getting the wheel into the building requires a bit of effort, and definitely needs two fit people to lift it. Make sure you don’t lift it by the plastic basin, as you will break the basin doing this. I took the seat off and used this as one lifting point. The person lifting on the other side of the wheel has to reach low down. The first problem we encountered is the wheel would not fit through the pottery door. I took the door off its hinges. The wheel still would not fit through the 31 inch door frame. I had to remove both the footrest and the speed control pedal from the wheel before we could manoeuvre it through the door frame. Removing these items is relatively easy. There are 6 bolts in total to undo. Hurrah, the wheel was now inside the pottery. I rebuilt it and rehung the door and un-wrapped the wheel.
The wheel does look stunning. The polished wooden finish gives it a real feeling of quality. I have no doubt that the great Josiah Wedgwood himself would be proud to be seen on one! I was desperate to throw something on it and give it a real test, so I weighed out fifty 12oz balls of clay and proceeded to throw mugs. The first thing I noticed is how quiet the wheel is compared to all the other wheels at Bentham Pottery. The second thing I noticed is that the speed control sticks badly in various positions. This definitely wasn’t the “extremely smooth running and sensitive speed control” as advertised on Gladstone’s website. I had to hook my foot under the pedal at times to make it move. I continued and made the 50 mugs despite my growing irritation with this problem. I found it very difficult to judge the wheel other than how bad the speed control was. I sent an email to Gladstone and frustratingly got an automatic reply saying that Gladstone Engineering were closed for the next two weeks for the annual “potters holiday”. Somebody though must have read the email as I was delighted to get a phone call the very next morning from a helpful and apologetic chap called Geoff from Gladstone, who told me exactly what spanners and Allen keys I would need and how to go about fixing the problem. I really like the fact that Gladstone got back to me so quickly (despite the potters’ holiday) and that the wheel can be opened up like this and problems can be fixed with common tools. Regrettably I never got round to doing this fix though, as at the time I was fully occupied with pottery courses, summer shows and order deadlines. However, I found that the speed control pedal actually loosened and improved with constant use from students over the summer and so now 3 months later the pedal is only sticking occasionally at high speeds and low speeds. I have found that a quick firm tap on the pedal releases it when it is stuck and I no longer have to hook my foot under the pedal. If the problem persists though, or gets worse then I will have to contact Gladstone again, as I have completely forgotten the fix. I do think that Gladstone need to review their policy on how they check their wheels before sending them out to customers, as sending out faulty wheels is not a great marketing strategy, especially when sending them to a second generation production potter who teaches many throwing courses and actively blogs!
With the speed control problem improving, I was able to more fully assess and review the wheel.
The wheel has a three way rotary switch. Straight up is off, turned towards you and the wheel is on and operates in an anti-clockwise direction and turned away from you the wheel is on and operates in a clockwise direction. Personally I would be happy with the wheel just turning anti clockwise, but I guess it’s good to have both options, especially when teaching very left handed people who might prefer the wheel spinning clockwise. The rotary switch is slightly quirky in that you have to follow a definite procedure when turning the wheel on. The rotary switch must be in the off position when turning the power on at the mains you then have to wait for an audible click and the red led lighting up on the rotary switch before turning the switch to an on position. If you get this sequence wrong then the wheel will not turn on. If the wheel is left on and unattended then every so often the wheel will start spinning. I’m not sure if this is an electrical fault, a fault of the speed controller or even a deliberate nudge to let you know that the wheel is still on?
The wheel is very quiet. It has a slow acceleration. If you press the pedal all the way down to the floor, it takes about 2 seconds to get up to full speed. I’m not sure what to make of this delayed response? I’m not saying it’s a bad thing; it’s just something that I need to get used to, or at least spend more time with before commenting. I’m guessing that the slow acceleration is deliberate and not a fault with the pedal? My other wheels all respond relatively instantly. I feel that the top speed of the wheel is a little on the slow side and I would definitely prefer it faster especially for centering the clay.
The seat is comfortable and has 7 height adjustments with 1.5 inches between each adjustment. I would prefer smaller increments than this and possibly even fewer adjustments. To change the seat height you unscrew the bolt below the seat and align it with one of the 7 grooves on the seat post. This is a bit tricky as you can’t actually see the groove you are trying to screw the bolt into as it is hidden inside the seat post clamp. I would prefer a sprung mechanism to this, because it would be quicker and I feel it would locate into the grooves on the seat post easier. The seat bolt does become loose during throwing causing the seat to move from side to side slightly. This doesn’t bother me too much though. One advantage of this seat is it can be swung to the side when not in use and so the wheel takes up less room in the pottery. Despite my criticisms this is the best adjustable seat I have yet come across on a pottery wheel.
The wheel basin/splash tray is white, which makes it a bugger to clean, although in terms of health and safety and keeping dust down this is probably not such a bad thing. The wheel basin has a drain to a pipe where a bucket can be placed by the side of the wheel. I have never understood the need for this drain and bucket arrangement. I’ve always just sponged water from the basin into whatever water container I use for throwing. The drain pipes invariably always blocks with clay and the bucket full of sludge and water just takes up floor space and is an easy target for knocking over or putting your foot into when stepping off the wheel. Why do wheel manufactures continue to use this system? Thankfully the basin comes with a plug, which is now in permanent residency in my wheel. The wheel basin cleverly undercuts under the wheel turntable. This allows the throwers thighs to fit into the wheel and feel like part of the machine. I really like this undercut and feel that it helps to make for a very comfortable throwing position (more comfortable than the Alsager). I found that the rounded edge of the basin sill was uncomfortable on my arms if throwing all day. The Alsager wheel sill is flat on top and is definitely more comfortable because of this.
The wheel easily takes a Giffin Grip trimming tool (see my review on Giffin Grips here), with plenty of space between the Giffin Grip and the basin wall ( it is a much tighter fit in the Alsager wheel). I have emailed Gladstone about the possibility of producing a wheel basin extender wall so the trimmings from the Giffin Grip don’t all end up on the pottery floor. I am still awaiting their response to this email. I feel all wheel manufactures should consider making a basin wall extender as the Giffin grip is such a useful tool.
So in summary then it is a mixed review. Would I recommend this wheel? I think it is a bit expensive for somebody taking up pottery as a hobby. Gladstone do produce a cheaper wheel called the Bailey, which I feel targets the hobby market more. I wouldn’t actually rule out buying a Bailey wheel myself, so my students can experience a more affordable wheel.
I think the wheel is definitely worth considering from a professional potter’s point of view, although if you’re strapped for cash you could pick up a second hand Alsager on eBay (they tend to sell for £600-£1200 depending on condition) or if you get on with the “Shimpo style” wheels then you could buy one of those wheels for considerably less money.
This review is slightly tainted by Gladstone sending me a wheel with a faulty speed control. I think I was unlucky here and possibly a victim of having a wheel made and delivered to me on the Friday before the Stoke-on-Trent annual potters’ holiday.
I will update this review every so often so as to see what the longevity of the wheel performance is like. I am also interested to see if I will gravitate more to this wheel, or stay with one of our trusty Alsagers?
• Comfortable throwing position. This is really a big pro, so many wheels are uncomfortable
• Relatively easily adjusting seat, although I’d prefer smaller increments in the adjustment.
• The wheel looks stunning.
• It’s expensive.
• Speed pedal sticks at times (Well mine does, although it is improving with use)
• Requires two people to lift it and you may very well need to take your door off the hinges to get it into your workshop/house.
• Slow top speed.
• The price you see on the website is not necessarily the price you end up paying! After writing this review I noticed that the price of the wheel on Gladstones website was £2760 (three months after I had bought it) whereas the price I was charged was £2892. I took this up with Gladstones expecting them to refund the difference, or at least give me some credit for future purchases. They did neither all I got was the following response;
“Yes we had a look and all the other prices were updated to the new price but we missed the G30 so it was still showing the old price , the price is £2892 we have updated the web site appreciate you pointing this out to us.”
Sharon Gardner recently attended one of our five day throwing courses. The following is a true story in Sharon’s own words and with her permission that I thought was worthy of sharing;
It’s strange how life can work, sometimes people come into your life for a reason. At 17 years old in 1983 I was asked to write a piece of coursework for my A level General Studies course, I had no idea what to write. I had recently completed an O level Ceramics course (See Photo 1)
I can remember sitting with my Dad on a Sunday afternoon reading The Times supplement, in the centre was a full page story of a female potter who had been commissioned to complete 5,000 communion bowls for Pope John Paul’s visit to Manchester and Liverpool 1982, I was inspired by this woman, at the end of the article was the name of her studio. (See Photo 2)
I spent all day on that Sunday calling 192 (that’s how we located phone numbers in in the mid 1980’s) to find out the woman’s telephone number, I plucked up the courage to call at 8 pm. Kathy Cartledge answered the ‘phone, she was polite, and I instantly warmed to this formidable woman. I asked if I could interview her for my coursework and add the interview as an appendix to the work, she agreed and I offered to call her back later; ‘no, let’s do it now,’ said Kathy. I was inspired and a little in awe of this well-known and professional person. My Dad searched the house for a pad and pen whilst I talked about the work I needed to complete and why. Kathy allowed me to interview her for over an hour, she told me how she obtained the commission and how she had needed to help of her whole family to complete the work.
Move forward 37 years later, I had a successful career in education and a family and lived in North Lincolnshire. My husband had encouraged me to re-visit my love of pottery a few years before. I had attended adult education classes, but I had never been shown how to throw a pot, as a gift he booked a cottage and a 5-day course at Bentham Pottery in North Yorkshire in September 2021 (see photo 3)
We stayed in the cottage on the farm, it was a fabulous base for the course and to explore North Yorkshire. On the Wednesday evening Barry was watching the England V Poland football match on the TV, I decided to watch the rest of Lee’s videos on the website that he had recommended prior to the course, I went on to read about the history of Burton in Lonsdale pottery and out of interest read the history of Bentham Pottery … image my surprise when Photo 2 came into view … this was the woman I had interviewed 37 years earlier. I was overwhelmed with joy and admiration for the business that Lee and Kathy had created and couldn’t wait to tell them the next day.
At coffee we all sat round the studio table, Kathy made drinks and we ate the dark chocolate KitKats that had become part of our daily routine, Cath, Ange, Debbie and I all sat relaxing and discussing our mornings work, I had to tell them all what I had discovered. I ask the group if they minded me telling them a short story whilst Kathy was present, they were all happy to hear how my life had come full circle and how I had spoken to this woman earlier in my life, Kathy cried and we all couldn’t believe the coincidence.
My only regret here is that I cannot phone my Dad to tell him the same story, unfortunately Ian Evans died on 4th Sept 2019, I would adore to tell him how he had run round the house looking for that pad and paper and how Kathy had wept at me recounting the story of a quiet 17 year old girl, sitting on the stairs of 1 Grosvenor Wood, Bewdley, Worcestershire, desperately scribbling down questions that later would create an outstanding piece of coursework, and how each time in my life I have been in an interview situation and asked the final interview question; ‘Who has inspired you in your life?’ I have told the story of a woman potter who created 5,000 communion bowls for the papal visit of 1982. A amazing and quite wonderful coincidence.
I put the following post on a Facebook group recently, questioning how to teach left handed people how to throw pots and in particular what wheel direction you should use. The responses were so interesting I thought it would be worth sharing them on my blog;
How do you teach throwing to left handed people? I have only ever had wheels that spin anti clockwise, so I have always taught the same hand positions (more or less) whether people are right handed or left handed.
I have just bought a new wheel that has the option to spin clockwise. Should I now teach left handed people on the clockwise wheel with their hands the opposite way round (for opening out and lifting the wall)?
I’m left handed and I throw right handed with tons of left handed habits. Just teach right handed, they will figure it out (at least I did)
I’m left handed and teach students that are left and right handed. I practiced throwing clockwise and counter clockwise so I can demonstrate on either side of the clay. If I have to fix something gone a bit wild, I switch the direction of the wheel to my preferred direction if necessary to get things back under control.
I teach left and right handed the same way, spinning anti clockwise. To me it’s a bit like playing piano, throwing requires working with both hands. There are minor differences for left or right handed but the principle is the same.
I’m a leftie who doesn’t believe we should throw any differently. There is no such thing as a left handed piano; both your hands are doing something equally important, there is no dominant hand.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re left handed or right handed. Japanese and Koreans throw with the wheel spinning clockwise, and the rest of the world throws with it spinning anti-clockwise. Both hands are needed to throw, so it doesn’t really make a difference which your dominant hand is. The other one just needs to learn more.
I’ve taught hundreds of people. They struggle wayyyy less when you switch the wheel. Make the effort to try to learn their direction. It makes a huge difference
I’m totality left dominant and started learning with the wheel going counter clock wise.. I was in a tec school program with a good instructor. I made some progress over several weeks, but when I switched the wheel it felt intuitively right to me. I think it is more about body position,, orientation in space,, direction of lean …etc. I teach both right and left handed people.
Some people are more at ease with the wheel going one way than the other, there is no rule really, I have left-handed students who throw like a righty and turn like a lefty! What works best is the correct technique. Another reason for using a kick wheel
I throw right handed as a left handed person. If they have never thrown before + they won’t know there is another way. As an adult I have become much more ambidextrous because of computer use. I’m sure the kids are the same way.
So what I do is start off teaching by letting the student experience both left handed and right handed. I start off doing it the right handed way because I am right handed and then if I see they have difficulty, I turn the wheel on in the opposite direction. The student makes the decision which way they prefer.
Throwing is a two handed process. In Japan they spin the wheel the other way and that is nothing to do with right or left handedness. Just carry on as normal. The psychology is interesting. Potentially the focus may be on the inside instead of the outside of the pot which affects the results in an interesting way
I reverse the wheel and my hand positions with left handed people and sit opposite them. But I have found a lot of left handed people are not fully left, many prefer throwing right handed.
Everything is the same it is just a different dominate hand. So before you speak or show someone, think of what you do with your right hand and do the same with the left, and vice versa. Trimming and everything is easier for some left handed people when you change wheel direction.
I am left handed and was taught the right handed way I believe when you don’t know anything at all it doesn’t matter you learn the way you are taught! Was so funny the subject was never brought up when I was learning. And months later my teach said, “wow you’re a lefty?” And I said yes, she laughed and said well now you’re a right handed potter!
I am left handed and learned right handed. All you are doing is having the strong hand inside the form like they do in Japan. Handedness isn’t important on an electric non-kick wheel.
I’m left handed. I throw on a counter clockwise wheel. It is a two handed process. Neither hand is dominant.
I find that the issue isn’t often with throwing but with trimming. Most people can learn to throw either way, but trimming is a whole other story. I teach with my wheel turning clockwise and just explain and demonstrate the different hand positions
I’ve been throwing for 43 years, teaching for 20: left handed potters throwing counter clockwise have the advantage, as the left hand is inside, and easier to control the form that way.
I would demo counter clockwise to my beginning wheel students. After observing them for a few class meetings if I noticed any that were really struggling I would ask if they were left handed and have them try throwing with wheel going clockwise. For some VERY left handed students having wheel going clockwise helped.
I am also left-handed, and throw counter clockwise. Both hands have such important jobs at different times that I honestly think unless you are truly ambidextrous it doesn’t really matter. I have wheels that switch and give students the option but few of them choose to do so.
No matter which hand starts out weaker (and brain stupider), it will strengthen both physically and neurologically until they’re pretty much equal, regardless if you’re throwing counter clockwise in the US or clockwise in most other countries.
I am a left handed teacher with 27 years’ experience & all my students are taught to throw with the wheel going counter clockwise. Pulling is done at the 5:00 position.
Well they are using both hands. I wouldn’t focus on right handed or left handed because some cultures learn to throw with the wheel going clockwise regardless of what of what hand they use. My teacher taught me that it’s not about left or right. It’s about what you prefer. Let your student experience throwing both ways.
I’m left handed and my left handed pottery instructor taught me to throw right handed as she does, simply because many pottery wheels don’t switch direction for left handed throwing. Also, we left handers, living in a right handed world our whole lives (door knobs, car ignitions and switches for example are all right handed), so we are very adaptable. Plus, since our dominant hand would be inside the pot being thrown, we have an advantage supposedly too.
If the wheel has an option for lefties this is what I do:
First I teach the right handed way. Then I adjust the switch to spin for left handed and tell the student to do everything opposite what I say. Once they have experienced both I allow them to choose. More times than not they continue to throw like right handed folks
Both hands have different, but equally important roles to play and I teach this to my students. There really is no left/right dominance issue when you think in this way
As a leftie I prefer a clockwise spin. Tried for ages the other way and when I changed the direction it just clicked. So talk about which hand the clay catches, or the dominant hand rather than right or left. Let them try both way and see what feels best
The same way you teach right handed people! Both hands have to work together to get it done. It doesn’t matter which hand is dominate. I can throw in either direction. Clockwise or counter clockwise.
I’ve always had all wheels going counter clockwise. It is so new to students working with both hands together that right or left handedness doesn’t really make a difference. The students whom I have taught and and throw have also told me that handedness us not an issue.
The responses show that nothing conclusive can be drawn from this question. There is clearly no such thing as a right handed or a left handed wheel when traditionally in different parts of the world people have learnt how to throw with the wheel spinning in only one direction regardless of what their dominant hand is (Japan – Clockwise, Europe – anti-clockwise). I think there is a strong case for arguing that both hands are of equal importance when throwing, so does the direction that the wheel spins really matter when learning? (I suppose I could test this theory by attempting to learn how to throw with the wheel spinning clockwise).
Some left handed people are happy making pots with the wheel spinning anti-clockwise and some prefer the wheel spinning clockwise. My feelings are that centering and opening the clay out can be learnt with the wheel spinning either way, no matter what your dominant hand is. The question is when you lift the wall do you prefer to work at 4/5 o’clock with the wheel spinning anti-clockwise, or do you prefer to work at 6/7 o’clock with the wheel spinning clockwise? Interestingly a few people have commented that with the wheel spinning anti clockwise a left handed person is at advantage when lifting a wall, as this puts their dominant hand inside the pot and so gives them more control over shaping the pot.
One thing I have discovered and a number of replies confirm this is that when turning a pot, left handed people seem to prefer the wheel spinning clockwise as with the wheel spinning anti-clockwise it puts them on their backhand.
After much reflection on this issue, I have decided to continue teaching with the wheel spinning anti-clockwise regardless of which hand is dominant. I am partially forced into this anyway, as four of the five wheels we have at Bentham Pottery only spin anti-clockwise.
Vevor pottery wheels are currently available all over the internet. They vary in price from about £70 to £130, which represents very good value for money, although it has to be said that some people experience problems with them (see the full review). I have reviews below of two different Vevor pottery wheels. One was brought into the pottery by one of my students and the other was bought by another student who sent me her own review and experiences of using her Vevor wheel.
Vevor wheel review one
I shared the following review to a number of social media groups recently;
“A student brought their wheel into the pottery this week. She paid £70 for it new. These wheels are currently all over the internet (they have gone up in price a bit, £100-£130). They are usually branded under the name Vevor. I had quite low expectations of it, however I was proved wrong. The motor is very quiet, the wheel works well at low speeds and high speeds, the foot controller is very precise and the wheel has plenty of traction, torque and momentum (at least with a 12 ounce ball of clay). The wheel weighs very little and is very transportable. Okay it’s not perfect, you need to make a small table for it to raise it off the ground, cos it’s a bit on the small side and the tray digs into your arms a bit and doesn’t hold much water. However for the price it represents great value for money and for somebody wanting to learn how to throw on a budget, it really isn’t such a bad option. It would be excellent for children, as it’s a bit smaller than a standard wheel. I’ve no idea what the longevity of these wheels is. I guess time will tell.”
Since writing this review I have had quite a lot of negative and positive responses to this wheel. Some people have had the wheel for over 12 months and all is still well (the student that brought the wheel in to show me has had it for two years now. She recently sent me photos of the studs she has put into the wheel head to take wooden bats). Some people found the wheel only lasted a few weeks before breaking. One lady said the wheel stopped working after one day (she was reimbursed her money). One person said the wheel worked fine until they tried to centre a 5lb ball of clay on it, this apparently finished it off.
It does seem that you are taking a bit of a risk buying this wheel. Maybe you will be lucky? If you do buy one I’d definitely only use small balls of clay, say up to 1lb and keep mopping out the water, as this may well increase the longevity. If you can get it for as little as £70 and it lasts 6 months with weekly use, you have probably got a bargain. My student actually managed to practise and learn the basics of throwing bowls and cylinders on hers.
Update 10/02/2022; Just received the following email re this Vevor wheel;
“Hi Lee, Just been reading your blog regarding these super cheap pottery wheels. I like you run courses and was looking into the wheels to assess for students. I got one off eBay and yes they seem to work ok but the one I got, and I think they probably all come out of the same factory in China, was Electrically very dangerous. No earth and water could very easily get inside the machine. I had it inspected by an electrical engineer who was appalled at the way it was constructed. I tried to engage with the Seller but go nowhere and had to claim my money back via the card Company. I also tried to alert trading standards but though they recorded my concerns I think it unlikely anything was done. How stuff like this can be sold here is worrying.”
Vevor wheel review two (review by Helen)
I became hooked on pottery after the first few throws.
Knowing that I needed more of this in my life I began to think of ways I could practice every day and feed my new habit.
It wasn’t sensible for me to pay out a lot of money for a wheel, firstly, I wasn’t good enough at throwing to justify that amount of money on a hobby. Secondly, I wanted to see if I was going to stick at it, to still be enjoying it while experiencing the reality of cleaning up all the time, making mistakes, preparing the clay, getting frustrated etc. Thirdly, I WANTED to improve my skills, and I knew the only way of doing that was to practice, and only way I could do this, was by purchasing a small, relatively cheap wheel.
It took a while to arrive due to the delays with the postal service at the time, but by the last week in September 2021 I had my very own potter’s wheel.
I’d like to talk through the initial problems, then I can focus on the good stuff.
Setting the wheel up is very simple, literally take it from the box, place on the floor, fit the splash pan, sorted!
Well, kind of sorted……my first issue was the height, it’s incredibly low to the floor and it took me a while to establish a comfortable working position, I tried all sorts before settling on a formula that worked well for me and my situation.
Once set up I eagerly started to throw some clay, unable to work out why everything felt uncomfortable and the clay wasn’t really doing what I asked of it, it slowly dawned on me that the wheel was far from level. Silly mistake. So out came the spirit level and I adjusted everything using some bits of wood that were lying around. Problem sorted and I began to really enjoy practicing my throwing skills.
It soon became apparent that if I wanted to make a few things in one sitting without the risk of misshaping what I had made whilst taking it off the wheel, then I would need to use bats.
At only 25cm, the wheel is smaller than on a standard pottery wheel so I needed to find somewhere I could purchase bats of the correct size. I found some on Etsy, which I was much happier about using than Amazon. They were quite expensive, I think I paid around £60 for 5, however, I felt the purchase would be worth the cost. If you’re lucky, you might know a joiner who would be happy to cut some for you, which would be the cheapest option.
I was a bit nervous to drill them, not wanting to make any mistakes but I measured carefully and drilled two holes in each one.
The pins I used for the wheel I ended up getting from Halfords, but they are not difficult to source. With great care I marked the top of the wheel where the pins needed to go and drilled, using the correct size drill bit to enable the pins to fit perfectly, and bingo! The bats fitted like a dream.
Being able to throw on a bat made things a whole lot easier and gave me more confidence to experiment with the clay.
Seven months later, I’m still using this wheel and I have to say I’ve been surprised at how good it has been. The wheel can be used either clockwise or anti clockwise which might be useful for some. The foot pedal is comfortable to use, it’s responsive, and it’s easy to maintain the correct speed for your needs.
I do think your expectations shouldn’t be too high with this wheel, it does have limitations. The amount of clay you can throw, for example, anything above two and a half pound of clay and the wheel starts to slow significantly, anymore and you can hear the motor struggling. Also, I find the splash pan a bit clunky to remove and fit back on as well as the fact that it easily leaks and won’t hold much water. But, as something to get started on, to allow practice at home and develop your skills it is a fantastic little wheel and good value for money.
I have known about the Giffin Grip for a long time. They have after all been manufactured since 1978. I’ve always been put off them though, because they are expensive and always look a bit fragile and “plasticky” and I guess I’m also guilty of subconsciously thinking that “Real Potters” centre pots with a delicate tap tapping and then placement of clay around the pot to hold it in place and, indeed, we have been using this exact method for over 40 years at Bentham Pottery.
Whilst visiting a student of mine recently I noticed that she had a Giffin Grip. I asked her to demonstrate it for me by turning one of her pots and I must have been suitably impressed with it, because I went ahead and ordered one for myself the next day. I didn’t really pick up on the two main problems with the Giffin Grip during this demo. I will come back to these later.
The Giffin Grip costs £230 from Potclays (U.K). Be careful when choosing, as there is a left hand version (for wheels spinning Clockwise) and a right hand version (for wheels spinning anti-clockwise).
I was suitably impressed by the manufacture of the Giffin Grip. All previous thoughts about it being fragile were very quickly dispelled, as I assembled it with the easy to follow instructions. The Grip can be mounted on any wheel diameter by simply moving the three arms under the Giffin Grip to give a very accurate fit. The grip comes with four different sizes of pot support arms that can be used depending upon the size and shape of the pot requiring turning. For bowl and plate shapes no support arms are required as the Grip clamps them on their rim.
Clamping a pot into the grip is very easy. You just place the pot roughly in the centre and rotate the Giffin Grip clockwise (with a right handed Grip). There is a slight skill to this, but you master it very quickly and the pot is held very firmly in place. It is an absolute joy to do, as providing the pot was thrown on centre a quick twist of the grip will centre it and hold it in an instant. It is definitely far quicker than centre-ing the pot yourself and holding it in place with pieces of clay!
It was only on turning a pot that I noticed the two problems with the Giffin Grip. The first problem is that the Grip raises the wheel height by 4 cm, which means it is higher than the wall of the wheel basin, with the effect that ninety percent of the turnings from the pot end up on the floor and not in the basin. The second problem is I tend to use the basin wall as a rest for my arms whilst holding the turning tool. This is no longer possible with the wheel effectively being 4cm higher. I came to the conclusion that I had made a mistake buying it. We tend to throw between 60 and 120 mugs (or equivalent pots) per day at Bentham Pottery. The thought of all the turnings from these pots going on the floor is really something I am not prepared to put up with, as you will end up treading the clay all around the pottery and creating a good deal of unhealthy dust.
However, before putting my recently purchased Giffin Grip on ebay, I decided to try an experiment with it. I rolled out a long coil and wrapped it around the top of my wheel basin to create a 4cm wall (effectively raising my wheel basin wall by 4cm). I then took the 60 mugs I had thrown the day before and proceeded to turn them all using the Giffin Grip.
The clay wall immediately solved the two problems with the Giffin Grip. All the turnings went into the wheel basin and I was able to lightly rest my arms against the clay wall. Turning was an absolute joy and I confess to smiling every time I clamped a pot onto the Giffin Grip. The realisation of how much time I could have saved over the years by not having to tap pots on centre and then stick clay around them slowly dawned on me. I finished turning the mugs in record time. I guess you can say I was hooked.
I have discovered that a clay wall around the wheel basin can be made on a Monday and wrapped with plastic when not in use, meaning it will last all week. It actually improves with age as you can lean on it more when it is leather hard. This though is only a temporary solution to the problem. I really need an actual solid wall that can be lifted on and off the wheel as required. With this in mind I make the following plea to all wheel manufacturers. Can you please manufacture a wheel basin extender for use with a Giffin Grip? Such an item would give you another product to sell and it may encourage more customers to buy your wheels, knowing that this is something they can purchase at a later date. To be honest considering that the Giffin Grip has been manufactured since 1978, it is hard to believe that no wheel manufacturer has yet made a wheel basin extender (maybe I am wrong about this, please email me if you know different). The problem could well be that potters are not vocal enough about telling the manufacturers of pottery equipment what they really want from it. With this in mind I will send this review to Gladstone Engineering in Stoke, who manufacture the wheels that we use. Hopefully it will give them some food for thought. In the meantime I will attempt to make my own basin extender (possibly carving from foam board). I have noticed looking through some of my Facebook groups that many potters have attempted to increase their basin wheel heights to solve this problem, although none of their solutions look brilliant to me.
So two months after purchasing my Giffin Grip and I’m still lining my wheel basin with a clay wall and doing all my turning using the Grip. I’ll update this review when I manage to manufacture a better wheel basin wall solution. Would I recommend it as a product, even with the two problems? Yes definitely.
I hope you have enjoyed reading my Giffin Grip review. Please feel free to email me if you want to ask any questions.
Burton-in-Lonsdale Pottery Walking Tour (Or if you are a kid “The boring pottery walk that my parents forced me to do”)
To celebrate the release of my recent book “The Last Potter of Black Burton”, I’ve decided to produce a walking guide tour of the some of the potteries of Burton-in-Lonsdale, so you can see the sites that are mentioned in the book. The walk lasts about 4.5 miles in total. “The Last Potter of Black Burton” is the story of Richard Bateson, who began work at his father’s pottery at the age of 13 in 1907 and went on to run the very last of the Burton potteries, Waterside Pottery, which finally closed its doors in 1944. Richard’s career didn’t end there though, as due to a strange twist of fate caused in no small part by the Second World War, he went on at the age of 53 to teach pottery at the Royal College of Art in London. “The Last Potter of Black Burton” is available for purchase at Bentham Pottery (I’ll even sign it for you if you visit me there.) Unfortunately little remains of the pottery buildings, kilns and clay processing equipment of Burton, so I’m going to provide plenty of photos and you might have to use a little imagination. Initially I was going to release this as a printable A4 sheet, but I quickly realised I would need way too many photos and descriptions, so the best way to do this walk is with a mobile phone or ideally a tablet computer with this webpage saved. (Alternatively you can email me on email@example.com and I can send you a pdf file of the walk.) The walk begins at the bridge over the River Greta in Burton. There is a small space for parking on the Low Bentham side of the bridge but if that is full then take the right (if facing Burton) and park on the left, just beyond the riverside picnic area opposite the bowling green.
Potteries around the bridge Okay here we go… Starting from Burton bridge: If you stay on the Low Bentham side of the Greta and walk back up the hill a bit and look back at Burton, you should get the following view:
The following photos and one drawing are of the same view, but on different dates;
The Burton “Blackware” Next, we are going to visit the main source of terracotta clay, used by all the Burton potteries. Walk back down the hill and before the bridge, turn left onto the lane to follow the river. After a short distance turn right onto a footpath signposted “Greta Wood”. The banking that forms on the left of the path was the original source of terracotta for the potteries and was affectionately known as “the good stuff”. Digging of “the good stuff” had to stop though, as a boundary wall was encountered and also further digging was in danger of undermining the road. Continue following the path past Greeta House. Greeta House was once the site of Greeta Cotton Mill. I realise that this isn’t pottery related, but Greeta Cotton Mill does feature in a tale later in the walk. After you have passed Greeta House, it is worth looking at your feet as you walk because the potters made this track in order to access the clay that lay further on; and they used broken terracotta pots, as hard-core. You can find potters’ fingerprints in coils of clay that they would have used for separating pots in the kilns (look for the terracotta dots on the ground). A few minutes after Greeta House you will come to a small stone bridge over a stream. Do not go over the bridge, instead turn sharp left here. Continue along the track where you may notice a steep shale bank on your left hand side. This banking is the Burton terracotta clay. The shale looks and feels nothing like clay. It only gains the properties of clay when it is processed. The Burton clay is jet black after being prepared for throwing, which is an unusual colour for clay. The Burton Potters referred to it as “blackware”. I have been told that it is black because it has a high oil content, which possibly provides “free” fuel during the firing process? I have wondered if the old name for Burton,” Black Burton”, originated because of the colour of the clay? The clay throws well on a pottery wheel. You can throw it really thin and produce complex overhanging shapes with ease. The clay fires terracotta colour. Apparently, below the shale and separated by a band of rock, is a seam of fireclay, which was used by the potters for repairing kilns and making firebricks. Walk about half way up the hill where you may notice a small rockface. This is the last place where clay digging took place within the Wood.
Waterside Pottery and the disappearing river tale Now retrace your steps back to the start of the walk. Cross the road to take the lane signposted to High Bentham and Ingleton keeping the river on your left hand side. We are now going to walk to the entrance of the former site of Waterside Pottery, where Richard spent much of his working life. After a short distance on the left hand side in-between the road and the river just after the picnic area and orchard, you may notice the following:
The concrete cap covers a mine ventilation shaft, a number of these shafts were sunk in the vicinity. One of these mine shafts (possibly this one? Henry Bateson (Richard Bateson’s son), thought it was this one) features in the following tale which has been taken from Richard’s own memoir written sometime in the 1970s:
In the late 1860s, workmen on their way to their jobs at the Waterside Pottery and the hands who worked at the Greta Cotton Mill found that there was little or no water running from above Burton Bridge. The water which drove the large mill wheel and machinery ceased to flow. Imagine the consternation of the fifty or sixty workers from Burton, Bentham and district. “T’ beck‘s dry!” would go round the whole district. I think it was the Towlers, who had taken over from the Smitties, who were working the mill at that time, and of course were mainly responsible for the upkeep of the weir which used to be some fifty yards below the bridge. After investigation, it was found that a large hole had formed in the river bed, about three hundred yards upstream, into which practically all the water was disappearing. Now as to the hole appearing in the river-bed – the explanation was very simple. In the early eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Hodgsons and Sargentsons who owned the mineral rights had decided to sink a new coal shaft at Wilson Wood (just below Ingleton), but they were afraid of water that might enter from old workings. They decided to drain these old workings. To do this, and to arrive at an adequate lead to drain the water, they had to start over a mile downstream, in the entrance to Clifford Woods. Part of the level had to be run beneath the river – and it was here, at George Hole, that the water was disappearing. Tom Baggaley Coates, who owned the Baggaley Pottery (Bridge End Pottery), came to the rescue. He blocked up the level by ramming down into one of the level-shaft some bales of cotton from the mill. At approximately every two to three hundred yards, a shaft was sunk into the level, partly for air, and also to wind out spare soil or clay. The first air hole was in the field beyond Greta Pottery. This was the one that was blocked by T.B.Coates to enable water to flow into its proper course and bank up at the weir to turn the wheel at Greta Cotton Mill.
Keep walking along the road, past the playing field on your right hand side and a little after the children’s play area you will come to a drive way on your left hand side. This was the driveway to Waterside Pottery. Unfortunately you can go no further than this, as the driveway is on private land. The row of houses that was once Waterside Pottery is at the end of the drive, although not visible from here. The reason for the location of Waterside Pottery is because it originally had opencast stoneware clay and coal in the field adjacent to the pottery. I’m not sure when the coal ran out, but the clay ran out in 1905. This forced the potters to dig a drift mine into the side of the hill to access more clay. Here are some photos of Waterside Pottery as it was:
Before you leave the driveway, here is a tale from Richard’s memoir which took place very close to where you are now standing: We had four horses – two Clydesdales and two Shires: Prince, a dappled grey; Polly, a large light brown; Star, a dark one with a white patch on its forehead; and the other whose name I can’t remember. One of them was always being rested while the other three were working. Prince must have been in the family for many years. Before the enlargement of the pottery in 1900, only one horse had been needed. After that, trade seemed to be on the increase. Whenever Prince, the dappled grey, was mentioned by the carters or by one of the bosses, one could always sense a note of respect and reverence. I have previously mentioned the settling-pens at the entrance to the Pottery road, at the Skipton Gate end. There was an old engine – which I fancy that I can remember one upon a time working. The enlarged pottery with its new additions was fitted up-to-date with a modern, more powerful engine – one would call it a two-stroke. The old stable engine had to be scrapped for old iron. I was then about seven years old. Billy Kirkbride, the joiner, had the job of moving it. There was only room for one horse to move it from the place where it had lain for years – and that horse was Prince. Engines of the driving-power type in those days had large five-foot wheels attached to them. I can well remember the conversation between the men on the job. “It’ll nivver do it,” says one. “Thee hodd thy noise. Tha doesn’t know that horse,” said old Jack Fletcher the carter. There was a man at each wheel. “Now,” said Jack, “when I say ‘Go,’ push and push like buggery….” There I was with my eyes popping – and probably using the same swear-words. I watched the great horse straining, and slowly one foot began to move, and then the other. “She’s moving!” shouts Billy Kirkbride. “Push and push like hell! – and gradually the engine and boiler came out of its resting-place. Today, after almost eighty years, the spot still shows – and some of the clay pans are still to be seen.
Bridge End Pottery (Baggaley’s Pottery) Again, retrace your steps to return to Burton Bridge and this time cross the bridge. Immediately after, you will see the following cul-de-sac on your right:
This is where Bridge End Pottery once stood. Bridge End Pottery was also known, at various times, as the Baggaley Pottery and the Coates Pottery. Here are a few photos of it:
Greta Pottery If you look on the left hand side of the road. You will see the following building:
This is where Greta Pottery used to be. Here is a photo of the workers inside Greta Pottery:
Town End Pottery and Greta Bank Pottery Now go up the steep hill into Burton and turn right onto High Street. It might be worth calling into the community shop for a quick sandwich and coffee (on the left hand side), because you’re going to need some sustenance for the next section! Carry on along High Street pass the entrance of Duke Street after which the road bears left. Soon after this, if you have a close look at the wall you may well see the following:
I’ve heard people say that this is a plague bowl, for washing money in. However another theory (put to me by Henry Bateson, Richard’s son) is that it was more likely to be the mortar of a pestle and mortar set , that may well have been used at Town End Pottery for grinding glaze ingredients.
Now look out for “The Croft” street sign on the left hand side, shortly after this bend in the road.This is roughly where Town End Pottery used to be. Regretably I have yet to find a photo of Town End Pottery, which is frustrating, as it was still in business up to the First World War. Somebody out there must have a photo of it? The only image I have of Town End Pottery is on the following drawing, where you can see the bottle kiln at the top right of the picture:
I have a plan of Town End Pottery, but its not as good as seeing an actual photo of it. Although it does give you a good idea of where it was.
Greta Bank Pottery
You’ve got two options for the next part, you can take the footpath on the right next to the bus stop (opposite where the stone mortar/plague bowl is), or if the weather has been wet (the footpath involves walking through fields), you can carry on down the road (heading towards Ingleton) and take the next right down a single track lane (Barnoldswick Lane). If you take the footpath option, the path starts off very well defined, but it suddenely deposits you through a small metal gate into an open field with a derelict barn in front of you and no obvious way on. Basically head to the left of the barn towards a gate in the field. Keep going through another 4 fields until you encounter a footpath sign and stile in the wall on the left. Cross the stile and turn right and you will be in Barnoldswick Lane. Turn right here. Walk to the very end of Barnoldswick Lane, turning right around the bend to avoid a drive way on your left named Brentwood Farm.. This brings you very close to the River Greta. After a few houses, the furthest house on your left, Lower Greta Bank House, is where Greta Bank Pottery used to be. Here is a photo of it in its prime, with a smoking kiln:
If you look up the first drive of Lower Greta Bank House there is a low curved wall with two openings just to the right of the drive. This is a small section of what was the outside wall of the kiln. It really is the last physical remnant of the Burton potteries past (in terms of buildings anyway). Please be aware that this is in a private garden, so only view it from the road.
Up to the 1930s you would have been able to continue along Barnoldswick Lane over the River Greta via Greta Bank Bridge, or Penny Bridge as it was known. Squire Taylor, the basket maker from Waterside Pottery, lived at the toll house for Penny Bridge. Apparently he wisely invested all the takings from people crossing in Guinness bought over the bar at the Joiners Arms in Burton. During the 1930s great depression, the good folks of Burton discovered a source of free coal in the river bed around the bridge. Removal of large quantities of this coal resulted in the bridge and banking being undermined and the river took the bridge foundations. It eventually also took Squire’s house. The bridge was never rebuilt.
Now returns to the mortar/plague bowl location on the High Street, either by the road or by the footpath through the fields.
The Punch Bowl and the Graveyard Challenge Turn left down Duke Street then sharp right to arrive at Low Street. On the corner of Duke Street and Low Street you will find Bleaberry House on the left hand side. This is where Harry Bateson of Waterside Pottery lived and it is where Richard Bateson grew up and ran away to the First World War from.
Half way down Low Street the Punch Bowl Inn is on your left. It would be foolish not to go inside and have a swift drink. You’re definitely going to need some fortification for the next bit. Whilst enjoying your chosen beverage (spirits might be the best choice), mull over the fact that The Punch Bowl Inn used to be owned by the Baggaley family from Bridge End Pottery and they used to craftily pay the pottery workers over the bar on a Friday night. And so on to the last part of the tour, the Graveyard Challenge. Turn left outside the Punchbowl, go straight across the road onto Leeming lane and follow the lane around to the right. This leads to the church. Head into the graveyard and see how many potters you can spot on the gravestones. Good pottery surnames to look for are Bateson, Baggaley, Bradshaw, Brayshaw, Briscoe, basically anything beginning with B. Actually that’s not really true, here are a few more: Kilburn, Coates, Parker and Taylor. Some of the main characters from my book can be found buried here; these include Henry (Harry) Bateson, Richard Bateson, Frank Bateson and Robert Bateson. Two gravestones mention actual potteries. I came to the sad realisation whilst researching this that I knew more dead people in Burton than live ones! This walking tour has looked at the five potteries that were still in production up to the First World War; namely: Waterside Pottery, Bridge End Pottery, Greta Pottery, Greta Bank Pottery and Town End Pottery. There were at least 10 other potteries operating at different times in the past. The following map will give you some idea of their location:
Please feel free to contact me and let me know how you got on with this walking tour. I’d be interested to know if you think I should add anything else, or even omit anything. I’d be absolutely delighted if anybody can show me any photos of Town End Pottery, or any other Burton pottery for that matter. All that now remains is a short car journey to Bentham Pottery (head towards Low Bentham from Burton and you’ll find us on the right after the cross roads), where you can purchase “The Last Potter of Black Burton”. I’ll sign it and even give you a tour of the pottery. We’re open Monday to Friday, some Saturday afternoons, but not Sundays.