Stoke-on-Trent - Potworks of the week
Wilkinson Ltd, Newport Pottery, Shorter & Son Ltd
These three factories were owned by the Shorter family and the companies worked in close co-operation,
their lasting fame was due to Clarice Cliff who designed the Bizarre Ware range of pottery.
Clarice Cliff worked at the A. J. WIlkinson factory and after showing good drawing ability she attended evening classes at Burslem School of Art from 1924-1925 and studied sculpture at the Royal College of Art in 1927, returning after only a few months to set up a small studio in Wilkinson's Newport Pottery, decorating traditional white-ware.
In 1927/8 a market testing of 60 dozen pieces of "Bizarre Ware" was organised by Colley Shorter. Wilkinson's salesmen were shocked by the extreme boldness of Miss Cliffs designs and further astonished by the rapidity with which they sold. Handpainted Bizarre, the name chosen by Colley Shorter, the managing director of Wilkinson's, to cover the whole range, was launched.
Clarice became Colley Shorter's mistress. In 1930 she was made Art Director of the firm and in 1940, following the death of his first wife, she married Colley.
the Newport Pottery (8) and the A. J Wilkinson Royal Staffordshire Pottery (7)
from a 1947 map of Burslem Potters
Bizarre ware by Clarice Cliff was made at both these works
the Shorter Pottery (4) in Copeland Street
from a 1947 map of Stoke Potters
These three factories were
owned by the Shorter family and the companies worked in close
co-operation, advertising and exhibiting jointly
Shorter and Boulton (later Shorter & Son), Stoke
In 1878 Arthur Shorter in 1878 and his partner James Boulton set up a pottery company in Copeland Street, Stoke upon Trent.
In 1926 Arthur Shorter died and over the next few years his sons felt freer to develop their firms' products along more adventurous lines most. The Shorter factory itself, still the most traditional in its output, produced colourfully painted household ware and also became well known for Toby Character Jugs.
The Clarice Cliff Bizarre ware was never produced at these works.
In 1881 the old Central works in Burslem passed into the hands of Wilkinson & Hulme and then, in 1885 to Arthur J. Wilkinson, who was the brother-in-law of Arthur Shorter.
In 1891 Arthur's brother-in-law A. J. Wilkinson died in an accident and Arthur Shorter was asked to manage the A.J. Wilkinson pottery in Burslem.
A few years later he bought the firm and in then in 1898 Arthur's son Colley joined him. His younger son Guy, who became manager at Shorter's in 1900, joined his father and Colley at Wilkinson's in 1905.
In about 1896 the company A. J. Wilkinson took over the Royal Staffordshire Pottery, Burslem and soon left the old Central works.
The two bothers, Colley and Guy Shorter were made directors of Wilkinsons in 1916
During the 1930's, and to reflect changing tastes, the patterns and shapes produced by Wilkinson's were to vary greatly, and in 1935/6 the Bizarre umbrella name was dropped; pieces then being marked Clarice Cliff. With the outbreak of war in 1939, creative output of the factory ceased, with much of the workforce being drafted into the Armed Forces.
Wartime restrictions on decorated pottery were to continue into the 1950's and the factory was never to produce pottery in the style or quantity of the pre-war period. Much of the design work was to pass into other hands, with Clarice and Colley spending less time at the factory and more time travelling and promoting the wares of A. J. Wilkinson.
Newport Pottery, Burslem
In 1920 the Shorter family acquired the Newport Pottery which was next door to the A.J. Wilkinson works in Newport Lane, Middleport, Burslem.
By 1931 there was a workforce of up to 1000 at the Newport Pottery, with 150 boys and girls trained in the decorating shop, producing the Bizarre Ware modern shapes and designs.
In 1916, the year that Colley and Guy became directors of Wilkinsons, Clarice Cliff, aged 17, started work there as a decorator and after three years she was apprenticed to the eminent artist John Butler as a modeller.
In 1925 Colley Shorter, much impressed by Clarice's work, provided her with her own studio next to his office. He also sent her on a modern design course at the Royal College of Art and a trip to Paris to observe the arts scene there. Allowed to experiment with old Newport Pottery shapes, she produced her new bold geometric designs, so expressive of the Art Deco age.
Colley was a consummate salesman and it was he who conceived the idea of personalising her designs with her signature, thus launching one of the 20th century's design legends.
Newport Lane, Middleport, Burslem
A. J Wilkinson - Royal Staffordshire Pottery
Pottery factories off Newport Lane c. 1935
the works highlighted are the the Malkin Tiles works
the two on the left are the Newport Pottery and the A. J Wilkinson
Royal Staffordshire Pottery
A. J. Wilkinson's Royal Staffordshire Pottery on the bank of the Trent & Mersey Canal
photo: © claricecliff.co.uk
Members of the CCCC at the remains of the Clarice Cliff 'Bizarre' painting shop by the canal at Newport, Burslem - 1992
photo: Leonard Griffin - author of six books on Clarice Cliff
and the founder of CCCC - the Clarice Cliff Colectors Club
Shorter & Sons
Staffordshire Sentinel 'Business Reference Guide to The Potteries,
Newcastle & District'
[pottery works highlighted]
3 Boulton, Frederick Thomas, waggoner
5 Stanford, Thomas, financier's agent, Copeland House
5A Hackney, Win. B., earthenware dealer
7 Parker, Henry, mechanical engineer
9 Clay, -. Congregational Church Minister, Rev. J. A. Brown, B.A.
Midland Railway goods warehouse
11 Showells Brewery Co., Ltd., brewers
11 Shaw, Harry, agent for Showells
13 Jebb, Thomas
15 Evans, Jno., Pike Inn (B.H.) Pim, Geo. and Co., brewers
19 Evans, Edwin, brewer
Keeling, Samuel and Co., timber merchants
Anderson, Thos. Brighten, M.B.C.M., physician and surgeon
Breeze, Joseph, joiner and builder
23 Breeze, John, insurance agent
25 Hind, Jervis, furniture remover
27 Underwood, William, fitter
29 Hobson, Isabella, Coopers' Arms (F.L.)
Nicholls, F.. timber merchant
Shorter and Sons, majolica manufacturers
Brittain, William, engineer and machinery broker
31 Evans, Wm., compositor
33 Scott, Jas., chimney sweep
35 Parkes. Wm., ironworker
37 Knight, Francis Henry, night watchman
39 Birch, George Henry, green-grocer
41 Barrett, Chas., tent builder
43 Thorley, Reuben, funeral undertaker
Stoke Borough Police Station
Superintendent, Fredk. Aldridge
2 London and North-Western Railway and Shropshire Union Canal Co.'s district offices District agent, William Whittam
4 Coe. Joseph William, veterinary surgeon
6A Markes and Son, builders' merchants
8 Home, Mrs. Ann
10 Seddon, John, clerk
12 Yoxall, Mary Emma C.
—Here is Lesson Street—
14 Mitchell, Henry, grocer
16 Sales, John
18 Baker, Joseph
20 Barnett, William
22 Burley, James, signal man
24 Taylor, John
26 Barnfather, James, coach builder
28 Edwards, Frederick, barge
30 Birch, Thomas, engine driver
32 Knight, Edward Walter H.. chief inspector weight and measures
—Here is Peel Street—
34 Seddon, Sarah J.
36 Thompson, William, store-keeper
38 Whitehead, Thos., general dealer
40 Cooper, William, carter
42 Woby, Henry, fitter
44 Salt, Thos. and Co., brewers
Smith, James, china and earthenware manufacturer. Glebe Pottery
46 Wiltshaw and Robinson, Carlton ware mamifacturers
—Here is Registry Street—
48 Ritchie and Co., china and earthenware merchants
52 Hulme, Miss Emma
54 Phillip. Wm. Henry, grocer
56 Wright, James, potter
58 Higgins, Miss Alice
60 Stevenson, Mrs. Susannah
62 Birks. Arthur, draper
64 Morley, Mrs. Annie
66 Beech. Catherine, beer retailer
68 Wright, William
70 Swinley, Harry, builder
72 Davies, John, carter
74 Chadwick, George
76 Vyse, John, potter
78 Harrison. Richard
80 Lamonby, Mrs. Ann
82 Haywood, Geo., drayman
84 Cordon, Mrs. Alary
86 Jones, Wm., confectioner
88 Prince, Arthur, grocer and provision merchant
—Here is Liverpool Road—
Copeland Street, Stoke - 1898 map
Shorter & Sons - red
Wiltshaw and Robinson, Carlton Works - blue
James Smith - Green
all the buildings on the north side of
the street were demolished in 1974-77
to make way for the A500 road.
The Carlton Works is still standing
Copeland Street, Stoke - Google map 2010
Carlton Works - blue
...in the footsteps of Clarice Cliff - her life and times in Stoke-on-Trent.
Clarice Cliff Collectors Club - the original web site for Clarice collectors, founded in 1982 by Leonard Griffin.