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Development of the North Staffordshire Potteries

kilnThe peculiar geological advantages of North Staffordshire, which led to concentration on a single industry, saw the evolution of a district so analogous with the products of its manufacture that it was for centuries recognized by the name “The Potteries.”   Layers of workable clays and strata of long and hot burning coal gave potters the raw materials to launch a craft that became an international industry.  With few resources to develop other occupations, all the energies of the district, intellectual, scientific, and financial were directed to the refinement of pottery.

Medieval potters catered to local markets, but from the seventeenth century social and economic changes across the country created new demands for more sophisticated ceramics. Staffordshire potters rose to meet the challenge.  New technologies changed the face of the industry; factories grew larger and gradually spread from the small villages of the district until the North Staffordshire Potteries evolved into a narrow, twelve mile chain of smoking bottle ovens juxtaposed with country views. As communities began to develop  around the center of each major pottery-making town, from Tunstall in the north through Burslem, Handley Green (Hanley), Stoke, Lane Delph (Fenton) and Lane End (Longton) in the south, the giant, bottle-shaped ovens that characterised The Potteries landscape dominated its skyline. 

early pottery
A Staffordshire pottery about 1650
line drawing of early pottery
The Ivy House Works about 1720-40
Brick works drawing ca 1800
The Brick House Works about 1750
Fountain Place Works about 1800
Spode Works about 1830

stoke on trent air quality

A View of the Potteries about1900

Kitchen map of England

map of england and wales
detail from a Map of England and Wales
published J. Cary, 1812

Detail from Panaorama of Burslem
watercolor,1960s. Reginald. G. Haggar

 Working in the Potteries »