Ridgway Potteries Ltd., Ash Hall, Stoke-on-Trent

 

NOTE: This article which follows originally appeared in a 1956 book 'British Potters and Pottery Today', is based mainly upon accounts provided mainly by the firms themselves.

 One of the largest pottery combines in existence, eight factories comprise the group, the oldest of which is Booths, which was already established in the eighteenth century as producers of high-grade earthenware. There is, in the Victoria and Albert Museum, a large dish dated 1757 with the name of Enoch Booth of Tunstable. Many of the patterns produced at the present time have been in continuous use since the early Victorian days. They have long been famed for their fine tableware, particularly their Salopian blue as used on their litho-printed vases. For example, one of their most popular designs is 'British Scenery', one of Booths collection of Davenport engravings. The original copper plates, engraved by Davenport, in the early nineteenth century, are still used in the production of this pattern.

Another very popular design is their version of the old Willow Pattern. Here their Salopian blue is distinctive and is emphasised by the gold line edge and by their special 'Majestic Shape'. Several other shapes are also produced, one of which, the Ribstone, includes a popular favourite called 'Blue Mist' a delicate pastel blue body which lends itself admirably to contemporary decoration. Both Her late Majesty Queen Mary and H.R.H. the Duchess of Kent have been supplied with Booths earthenware.

Colclough, at Regent Works, produce bone china tea ware. The firm was established in 1895 by Herbert J. Colclough, a former Lord Mayor of Stoke and a man of great repute 'among all sections of the community. It is said that, at the beginning of his career as a potter he used to fire two ovens himself. Many times, after working all day, he would sit beside his ovens all night, so anxious was he to achieve success.

He seemed to thrive on hard work and consequently made a success of his business. In 1907 he took over the Osborne Works at Longton and in 1918 he added the Regent Works, which had been in production since 1850. A red letter day for the founder was when, in 1913, the late King George V and Queen Mary visited his Vale factory in the course of the tour of the Potteries, hence the Royal Vale backstamp which is still in use on certain Colclough ranges.  The Regent Works has undergone extensive reconstruction and, at the present day, the company can boast of being the largest individual bone china producing unit in the industry.

Ridgways, at Bedford Works, Shelton, was founded by Edward J. Ridgway, son of the famous Master Potter William Ridgway of Hanley. Well-known in the ceramic industry in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Job and George Ridgway, of Shelton, are mentioned on Allbuts' map of 1802, and in 1820 they were making extensively for the American market, being among the leading potters supplying the New World with decorated wares-showing American buildings, scenery, arms of the United States, portraits of Washington and other Americana. John Ridgway was honoured by being appointed Potter to Her Majesty Queen Victoria and earned high commendation at the 1851 Exhibition. The catalogue informs the Victorian public that 'The Establishment of Mr. Ridgway is one of the largest and among the best conducted of the many factories of Staffordshire'. Ridgway materially assisted in establishing a School of Design and founded a scholarship in this connection. The present firm specialises in vitrified wares, tiles and a full range of earthenware tea and dinner sets.

Adderly fine bone china tea and dinner ware has been made for several years at the Paladin and Gainsborough works, but is now made only at the Paladin factory. The Gainsborough works was formerly the Daisy Bank factory of the eighteenth century, taken over by Adderleys about 1860.

Also included in the Group are the Portland factory (for a full range of tea and dinner ware), the North Staffordshire Pottery, concentrating on vitrified hotel ware, including the well-known 'Vitrock quality' and the Adderley Floral and Figurine China factory in Longton. Ash Hall has been their headquarters since 1952 a large country house, providing an unusual and attractive setting for the display of products made at the different factories.

 

NOTE: This article which originally appeared in a 1956 book 'British Potters and Pottery Today', is based mainly upon accounts provided mainly by the firms themselves.

questions / comments? email: Steve Birks