Staffordshire Potteries

History and Information

The area of Staffordshire is unique in the sense that no other country in the world could be so heavily associated with one trade as the Staffordshire Potteries. Staffordshire Potteries is the name given to the industrial area and is the collective name for a number of manufacturers which spanned across six towns; these towns were Burslem, Fenton, Hanley, Longton, Stoke and Tunstall. The area was abundant with coal, lead, clay and salt, which meant hundreds of companies were able to produce both industrial and decorative pieces.


The area of Staffordshire had a wealth of Devonshire clay, and this was utilised to create porcelain formulas known as soft-paste or salt-glazed porcelain. Over time the formulas improved and bone ash was introduced into its production, which led to the creation of bone china; bone china is the type of porcelain typically associated with Staffordshire porcelain to this day.

Staffordshire Potteries produced a great deal of ceramics in the beginning of the 17th C. The production of pots in the 1700’s far outweighed the demand and a large network of merchants sold their wares across the country. The cost of producing pots in Staffordshire was less than in other parts of the country and the industry boomed throughout the 1700’s in the area. In 1769 Josiah Wedgwood built one of the largest factories of the time just outside Burslem, alongside him Josiah Spode and Thomas Minton were among some of the great pottery producers to make Staffordshire synonymous with world-class ceramics. 

The pottery itself was produced in large brick built structures called 'Bottle ovens' (also known as Kilns).  These bottle shaped buildings (hence the name) littered the Industrial landscape of Staffordshire for centuries, and only fully ceased to be used in the mid 1900's.  Where approximately 2,000 were once believed to have been in use, only around 47 remain in existence nowadays as they were granted 'listed building' status.  This was undoubtedly due to them playing such an Integral part in the history of Ceramics; their preservation can be observed in numerous museums around Stoke-on-Trent.  



Image credit: Wikipedia