Stoke-on-Trent - Potworks of the week
Postcards of bottle kilns in Stoke-on-Trent
Fresh Air for the Potteries
"a fantastic collection of narrow-necked jars or bottles peeping above the house-tops on every side,
looking as if giant biblical characters, after a search for oil or wine, had popped them there, among the dwarf streets"
"The pottery manufactories — known locally as "potbanks" - have nothing big about them, no six-storey factories or towering chimneys. You see no huge warehouses, no high public buildings. Even the smoke - and there is plenty of it in the Potteries - does not hang well above the towns like a dark cloud, as it does in other industrial districts, but seems to drift heavily....
It resembles no other industrial area I know. I was at once repelled and fascinated by its odd appearance. Perhaps it was all the more curious to me because, being a Yorkshire-man, when I see so much grimy evidence of toil, I also expect to see the huge dark boxes of factories and the immensely tall chimneys with which I am so familiar.
I never got used to their odd appearance, never quite recovered from my first wild impression of them as some monstrous Oriental intrusion upon an English industrial area. But without these great bottles of heat, there would be no Potteries. They represent the very heart and soul of the district, as you very soon learn;"
J B Priestley, English Journey
O Beautiful, My Country
"Beauty was achieved, and none saw it"
"In front, on a little hill in the vast valley, was spread out the Indian-red architecture of Bursley - tall chimneys and rounded ovens, schools, the new scarlet market, the high spire of the evangelical church……the crimson chapels, and rows of little red houses with amber chimney pots, and the gold angel of the Town Hall topping the whole.
The sedate reddish browns and reds of the composition all netted in flowing scarves of smoke, harmonised exquisitely with the chill blues of the chequered sky. Beauty was achieved, and none saw it".
Arnold Bennett, Clayhanger 1910
20th Century Hell
'That is what Hell will be like,' she said solemnly, 'only worse.
How lucky we are that none of us will go there, because we say our prayers.'
|"At night, in
winter, the infernal landscape could be seen at its most exciting:
flames and sparks leaping upwards out of the pot-banks, many only half
a mile away, perhaps less, turning the clouds of smoke orange and
pink, sometimes fiery red, the whole angry skyline seeming to heave
with the frantic effort to burn and heat and scorch.
'I hate those pot-banks,' she said. 'There must be a better way of baking the pots.'"
Paul Johnson - The Vanished Landscape
Stoke-on-Trent "Always Merry and Bright"