Discovering Local History
Overview of Stoke-on-Trent
The Potteries in 1670
(from Potteries Museum & Art Gallery)
Geography of the Area
The Potteries or Stoke-on-Trent (a federation of six smaller towns) is located in North Staffordshire. For nearly 300 years it has been the main centre of earthenware production in Britain.
Several factors account for rise of the pottery industry in North Staffordshire:-
1) The area's agricultural land was poor and there were ample supplies of local clay.
2) The area was rich in coal - important because up to 10 tons of coal were required to 'fire' one ton of clay produce.
3) The area is located reasonably close to navigable rivers needed to transport earthenware. But, before the development of the canals transport costs were very high.
4) There was a ready market for clay pots from the Cheshire dairy industry.
(The Mappa Co, London)
on the Geography of Stoke-on-Trent & North Staffordshire
Therefore, the area is ideal for pottery making. Land existed for building houses, clay for making pottery and above all coal - up to 10 tons of coal required for making one ton of pottery.
Even so, these advantages were shared by a number of other areas in England, and it took two further factors for the area to become firmly established as the leading centre for pottery manufacture in England:-
1) The growth of the canal network in the eighteenth century. Even given the locality's proximity to navigable rivers, the area is still fairly hilly. In the seventeenth century a journey to the nearest such river would have involved travelling some distance over rough roads and track ways.
2) The arrival of entrepreneurs on the scene such as Wedgwood, Spode and Doulton who saw the potential that existed in the area for developing the pottery industry.
Early Roads and Canals
(Potteries Museum and Art Gallery)
next: is the growth and development of The Potteries