Stoke-on-Trent - Potworks of the week


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Ridgway's Bedford Works


Ridgway's Bedford Works
Ridgway's Bedford Works - 1958
photo: Donald Morris - 'The Potteries - a photographic record' 

Four of the eight enormous botle kilns of the Bedford Works, on the Caldon Canal, Shelton.
The huge height can be estimated by the size of the doors giving access to the kiln inside. 

"..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"

J B Priestley, English Journey

 

 

The Bedford Works - 1898 map
The Bedford Works - 1898 map

 


Google maps - 2010 

 

 

 

The frontage on Bedford Road is all that remains intact
The frontage on Bedford Road is all that remains intact
some parts of the workshop buildings can be found at the back of the range
to the right is the Ridgway Memorial Chapel (now an Islamic Centre), which can be seen on the 1898 map above
- the Ridgway family were strong Methodists -

 

looking up Bedford Street from the canal - to the right is the side of the former works
looking up Bedford Street from the canal - to the right is the side of the former works
some of the original wall is retained  

 

looking along the Caldon Canal from the bottom of Bedford Street
looking along the Caldon Canal from the bottom of Bedford Street
part of the wall Bedford Works can be seen on the left  

photos: Feb 2011 


 

 A mark used by the Ridgways Bedford Works from around 1950.

A mark used by the Ridgways Bedford Works from around 1950.
The Bedford works was built in Shelton Stoke-on-Trent in the late 1870's.

The "Est 1792" does not refer to the Bedford works but to the original potworks established by his grandfather Job Ridgway. It was not unusual for companies to try to put an early as possible date to give an appearance of age and stability.


 

"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'."

From a 1956 book 'British Potters and Pottery Today'

 


 

Memories of Lilian Fowler - a worker at the Bedford Works

"I was born in 1936 in Mount Pleasant, Shelton, a few doors away from the entrance to the air raid shelter (know as The Tunnel) which was under the ruck. Various people have told me that the ruck was also known as Scotchman's Hill, although I never heard this name. My mother was the warden there until we moved to Carmountside, Abbey Hulton, in 1943. I remember that there were three tier bunks for people to sleep on, my two older brothers slept on the top ,me on the middle shelf and my mother and baby brother on the bottom and one of my earliest memories of that time is wearing a 'siren suit' to keep me warm. I also remember the Mickey Mouse Gas Masks, and that my brother who was only six weeks old at the beginning of the war, being put in a kind of cradle. I still have my own identity card from those years.

All of my father's family lived in Mount Pleasant and the surrounding area of Tinkersclough. Two of my cousins worked on Lancaster and Sandlands pottery which was at the top of Mount Pleasant, and I remember when I was very young, being taken with them to the top of the building when they were on a fire watching rota. There was also a ware house across the road, (think the saggars were kept in there) and a small incline adjacent to the main road, where all the older children used to play 'doffers'.

I was christened at St. Mark's Church and attended St. Marks Mission, which was sited on the corner of the Mount Pleasant alleyway and Clough Street, I think the Church Army were also involved, because I was a Church Army Sunbeam and I seem to recall that Captain Haynes ran the Sunday School. I attended Shelton Infants School and both of my older brother's transferred from Shelton School to Cannon Street Senior School. Alma mentions Dudley's house, which also struck a cord, as I think that Mr. Dudley was the caretaker for the Mission and had a daughter named Maureen.

After I left school, I returned to the area to work in the offices at Ridgways Pottery in Bedford Road, and every day I would walk along Rectory Road, down Milton Street, over Sun Street and up to my Aunt's in Mount Pleasant to have my dinner, and then walk all the way back. Mentioning Ridgways, the Managing Director at that time was Mr. Philip Bailey whose son (I think) is Sir Richard Bailey, formerly the Chairman of Royal Doulton. As I was a very junior member of the office, I used to be sent on errands to collect shopping etc for Mr. & Mrs. Bailey. If I had to go further than Hanley, Mr. Bailey's chauffeur, who was always called just 'Hilton' would take me in the car which was either a Daimler or a Humber Super Snipe."

Best Wishes 
Lilian Fowler

 

 


 


contents: 2011 photos

 

 

Related pages 


John Ridgway & Shelton. - Walk around the Howard and Cauldon Place area of Shelton in the 1850-1890 period. The Ridgway pottery family and the development of the streets and houses.


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