Location and period of operation:
Vulcan Pottery, Slippery-la. Hanley
Washington Works, Shelton, Hanley
Victoria Place, Shelton, Hanley.
Also see: Alcock, Lindley and Bloore Ltd
Beginnings with a factoring business started by Mr. B.J. Swinnerton at Burton place, Hanley.
Company founded in c1906 with factories in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent.
1906 - Swinnertons, Vulcan Works, Hanley, appointed Mr. H. Field their London agent, showing their samples at his rooms, 106, Hatton-garden, E.C.
Became a limited company in 1911.
1911 - B.J. Swinnerton joined with W. Lindley in taking over a business at the Old Chelsea Works.
On the death of Mr. B. J. Swinnerton, Mr. V.G.H. Alcock joined the firm, becoming its chairman.
During the first world war a Mr. W. Bloore joined the firm and in 1917 another factory, the Washington Pottery, was acquired. (this works was vacated by 1946)
After the 1st world war Messrs. Alcock, Lindley and Bloore purchased a teapot factory.
In 1925, the Victoria Pottery was purchased, followed soon after by the purchase of the Scotia Pottery at Burslem, in the meantime, the teapot business had developed and a further teapot factory was added to the group. The directors, now joined by Mr. R.B. Bloore and Mr. W.S. Lindley, decided to build a new, single-storey factory, for the exclusive manufacture of Samian and Rockingham teapots. In 1938 a start was made to rebuild the Vulcan Pottery, but it was interrupted by the second world war.
August 1952 the redevelopment of the Vulcan Pottery was completed.
In 1952 the old-established business of Davison & Son Ltd., was purchased.
Trading at this time was still continued under the Swinnertons name.
In 1959 the Swinnertons group was taken over by the Lawley Group.
Between 1959 and 1964, when the Lawley Group became part of Allied English Potteries (AEP), the Swinnerton name appears to have ceased. In 1973 AEP merged with Royal Doulton and thus Swinnertons, among many other companies, became part of the Doulton group.
Marks used on ware for identification:
The Pottery Gazette (August 1, 1906)
"Swinnertons, Vulcan Works, Hanley, have appointed Mr. H. Field their London agent, and are now showing their samples at his rooms, 106, Hatton-garden, E.C. They have the exclusive distributing agency for the United kingdom of the production of J & G Meakin, Ltd, Hanley and among the samples of that firm's goods Swinnerton's have a large number of novelties in toilet services. One of the newest is the "Cairo" shape, a very attractive embossed design. It is shown in a number of shaded decorations of an up-to-date character. Mr. Field, their London representative, for many years represented Blizard & Isaacs, who have retired from business. Many of the shapes and patterns used by Blizard & Isaacs are now supplied by Swinnerton's and samples of them are on show at Mr. Field's rooms."
The Pottery Gazette (November 2, 1908)
"Swinnertons, Vulcan Works, Hanley, have their London rooms at 106, Hatton-garden, and are represented by Mr. H. Field. They have a large assortment of samples, toilet ware being their strongest line. They have shapes and decorations to suit all tastes in good medium class sets. The new shapes and decorations are full of variety, and are in accordance with modern taste. The "Assella" shape has a useful and graceful ewer and an oval basin with end tips as handles. The "Gem" shape is one of the most popular styles; as a well-modelled, graceful jug and deep round basin, without embossments. The plain surface invites a large variety of printed patterns. There are many pretty printed floral designs on this "Gem" shape…….. The "Radio" toilet shape is a new and pleasing production both as to shape and decoration. The company show some pretty lines in dinner ware, of which the "Pembroke" in one of the best. The vegetable dishes are oval in shape, and have many neat printed decorations in flown blue and canton. The "Empire" dinner ware is shown in various patterns printed and enamelled. The selection of tea ware is a good one in which there are many pleasing shapes in inexpensive printed decorations and gilt. The tea ware is very light, and is nicely modelled. The company have export goods suitable for all markets, and have many special shapes and decorations for the export trade. They keep very heavy stocks and are prepared to give smart delivery. They supply mixed crates, containing toilet ware and dinner ware, tea ware, and jugs assorted to suit customers."
The Pottery Gazette and Glass Trade Review (1919)
"Swinnertons, Ltd., Hanley, have made quite remarkable strides in a forward direction since it was my pleasure to last wait upon them some two or three years ago, and this in spite of the fact that "there has been a war on." Whereas, at that time, they only had one factory the "Vulcan" Works - now they are operating no less than three. This enables them to concentrate at the different factories on special lines, and so avoid many of the troubles that are inseparable from multiplicity and diversity of one's productions. At the Vulcan Works they are now able to specialise on toilet ware, trinket ware, dinner ware, and suite ware; at their "Washington" Works they are laying themselves out on the Continental plan of specialisation for the efficient and economical production of teas and saucers and plates merely, which the market is demanding in heavy quantities; and their latest acquisition is in the shape of a teapot factory, at which in future they will make their own Samian Jet, Rockingham and other teapots. As showing the enterprise of the firm, they have also secured land adjoining for further developments in the near future. The three factories are all moderately adjacent, having, so to speak, "Victoria Place." Shelton, as their hub. But apart from these developments, which in themselves interest me greatly, I was pleased to notice the advance which has been made during a state of war in the company's designs. They have a most entertaining selection of goods for the ordinary practical dealer in utilitarian and ornamental wares, and are showing many really good effects are extremely moderate prices. "
The Pottery Gazette and Glass Trade Review (June 1 1921)
"Swinnertons, Ltd., Vulcan Pottery, Slippery-la. Hanley… are now showing a better range than ever before…."
The Pottery Gazette and Glass Trade Review (April 2 1923)
"Swinnertons, Ltd., Vulcan & Washington Potteries, Hanley are a firm whose main policy for many years has been to provide domestic potter, in certain specialised branches, suitable for the requirements of the middle classes…."
The Pottery Gazette and Glass Record (August 1931)
"AROUND THE LONDON SHOWROOMS
There are some remarkably fine colour effects in the controlled litho patterns on the latest earthenware from Messrs. Swinnertons, Ltd., which Mr. H. Field is displaying at his showrooms, 16, Hatton Garden, E.C.1…….
…Among the teapots from the factory allied with Messrs. Swinnertons, that of Messrs. Alcock, Lindley and Bloore, Mr Field is showing a lock-lid pot with a new style of decoration called Rembrant….."
Pottery and Glass (December 1953)
"EARTHENWARE WITH A REPUTATION - 40 years of growth
Tableware of moderate price with pleasing patterns and a sound body has always been the aim of Swinnertons of Hanley. Their earthenware is thin, light and fine, and has typically a dark or light ivory body. To achieve this, the ingredients have to be well balanced and every process completely controlled. The potter's mill that had been used by the firm for some time was recently considered out of date economically, and not up to producing the quality required, so they purchased a 40-acre site outside Hanley on which a new mill has been built, the rest of the ground being earmarked for new developments later on.
If you can't buy it, make it
The company now controls a group of factories but its beginnings were in a factoring business started by the late Mr. B.J. Swinnerton at Burton place, Hanley, and its progress has been typical of the cohesion in business affairs which is the strength of the potteries. Finding he could not be sure of a continuous supply, he decided to buy a manufacturing plant and in 1911 he joined with the late Mr. W. Lindley, a practical potter of wide experience, in taking over a business at the Old Chelsea Works.
As this factory could only produce hollow-ware, the first extension, the forerunner of many others, was a biscuit intermittent oven, a range of potters' shops capable of producing a full line of dinner and tea ware, and a block of warehouses. On the death of Mr. Swinnerton, Mr. V.G.H. Alcock joined the firm, becoming its chairman.
Money in teapots - but no lead
During the first world war, the late Mr. W. Bloore joined the firm and another factory, the Washington Pottery, since sold, was acquired.
When a teapot manufacturing business came on the market, the three partners, Messrs. Alcock, Lindley and Bloore, decided to buy it, and so a new company was born. At this factory Rockingham glaze, which passed the low solubility test, was first introduced and is now used throughout the trade with a consequent elimination of lead poisoning, which up to that time had been very prevalent.
In 1925, as business was growing, the Victoria Pottery was purchased, followed soon after by the purchase of the Scotia Pottery at Burslem, in the meantime, the teapot business had developed and a further teapot factory was added to the group.
Realizing the trend of events, the directors, now joined by Mr. R.B. Bloore and Mr. W.S. Lindley, decided to build a new factory for the exclusive manufacture of Samian and Rockingham teapots. This single-storey factory embodied tunnel oven firing, mangle driers heated by waste hot air and with a labour-saving layout, with the emphasis on flow production.
In 1938 a start was made to rebuild the Vulcan Pottery, but it was interrupted by the second world war, and the scheme was finally completed last August, when the latest type of steam raising plant was installed. The boiler is of the economical, fully-automatic type. Emphasis was again laid on flow production in designing this factory and of course all the latest types of labour-saving machinery, some of which are the patent of Swinnertons', were installed. Tunnel ovens were included and open firing with a naked flame of city gas for both biscuit and glost was introduced to the trade of this country. During the whole of this rebuilding, not a single hour's work was lost by any operative.
In 1952 the latest acquisition of the group, the old-established business of Davidson & Son Ltd., was purchased. This factory has been completely brought up to date and has been given tunnel oven firing.
Pattern for Success
The control of these many factories is in the hands of the directors and of the works directors, Mr A.J. Lewis and Mr. H.C. Rogers, while the large sales organisation has been taken over by Mr. R.D. Bloore, from Mr. C.T. Parkes, whom illness has caused to retire to a consultative capacity…….
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