Index for Shaw's history   

Shaw's - History of the Staffordshire Potteries - originally published in 1829

 

Chapter 2 - The Potteries - Burslem and its vicinity

 



next: Chapter 2 - Haney & Shelton with their vicinity 
previous: Chapter 2 - Tunstall and its vicinity
contents: index of Shaw's book


[these headings are not in the original - they are added for ease of reading]

Burslem - Mother Town
Chief seat of Manufacture
Rectory
Schools
Town Hall
Manufactories
Bichers Colliery
The Big House
Chapels
Joseph Machin
John Riley
Trent and Mersey Canal
Longport and Dale Hole
Hot Lane
Cobridge

 

 

Burslem - Mother Town

BURSLEM, the MOTHER OF THE POTTERIES, is now a populous Market-town, and a distinct Parish; having been separated from Stoke by Act of Parliament. More than three miles N.N.E. of Newcastle, it stands on a very prominent hill. 

In Erdeswick's "Antiquities," it is named Bulwardslene; and in Shaw's "General History," Barcardeslim, both names doubtless haying reference to Bullbaiting. However, whether we admit the former name, as originating from some Bull-keeper, (bull-ward,) and the latter as from some dog-keeper, we shall easily find, on trial, that the rapid utterance of the words as two syllables, according to the known principle in Language of shortening all difficult words, will make the name be Burdslem, or Burslem the same as nigh as possible. Other local authorities of our day, give Boar's Lane, from a wild Boar which pestered the neighbourhood.

 

Whoever attentively surveys the structure and number of the old Buildings of Burslem, will be convinced that its antiquity is greater than any other place in the district. In fact, this cannot be doubted on any tenable ground. But it must be admitted not to have increased so rapidly, and to as great extent, as have some of the other towns. 

It is, however, a flourishing place. Many wide and spacious new streets of excellent dwelling houses, erected of bricks chiefly made on the spot, have nearly doubled the size of the town within the present quarter of a century.

In consequence of its situation on an elevated portion of the Moorland Ridge, it probably never experienced disadvantage, however much its inhabitants were formerly, for a few hours at a time, incommoded by the vast volumes of dense clouds of vapour proceeding from the ovens at the time of employing Salt for the purpose of causing the glazed inside and outside of the Pottery. They were always dispersed in a few hours; and never could become stagnant, because of the constant current of air from the hills of Derbyshire, or from the sea, over the Cheshire water bason.



Chief seat of Manufacture

This place is the most early and chief seat of the Manufacture in this district; from here can be traced the migrations of potters to the neighbouring hamlets and towns; and existing specimens warrant the belief that the coarse brown, cloudy, and mottled pottery have been made during many centuries, and, according to some opinions, since the Romans inherited the territory. 

 

The population was for a long period very scanty, and a straggling oven, and requisite buildings covered with thatch, and employing few persons, might be found at the junction of each of the roads, rendered common by frequent journeys of gangs of horses. The fabrication of common vessels, porrengers, jugs, cups, &c. had continued in the very rude state in which it was found by Dr. Plott, when he surveyed the county in 1686. His description regards such a state; yet is very respectful concerning Burslem, as having the largest Potteries then known to exist.

 

Nearly the whole of the Land on which the town now stands, as well as that which surrounds it, has at various times, in distant years, been deeply excavated for clay and ironstone; which at varying depths below almost the whole of the district, lie in valuable beds of varied extent, differing in qualities and colours; from which coarse materials, alone, or variously intermixed, were made the clumsy articles transmitted to our day; these were ornamented with clays, destitute of elegance in the design, and the colours were not only badly ground, but were applied with little taste and design; the glaze also was lead ore, or pulverized ironstone rock, or calcined lead, each deleterious to the constitution, applied to vessels designed for culinary purposes.



Rectory

Burslem was constituted a separate Rectory from the Rectory of Stoke, by Act of Parliament, in 1805, The Patron is William Adams, Esq. of Cobridge; the Rector, Rev. Edward Whieldon. The Old Church is dedicated to St. John; but merely the square tower(1) remains of the first edifice; the present brick structure having been erected early in the last century, prior to any idea of the town becoming so populous as it now is; else there would have been greater attention to provide accommodation. The very low situation, and wholly unconnected with any houses, shew that the other parts of the place were unsuitable for such an edifice; the ground being liable to excavation, or else mere heaps of shords. Very recently a fine Peal of new Pells has been fixed in the tower.

 

(1) Towards additional erections on the old Tower to raise the whole, the late John Rogers, Esq. of the Watlands, left 100. provided the same be effected within a specified period; but this not yet being done, it is to be feared that the Legacy has lapsed to the residuary Legatee.

 

Schools

Near the Old Church is the NATIONAL SCHOOL; a spacious edifice, three stories high; supported wholly by voluntary subscriptions, appropriated to educate children of the labouring classes, both on Sundays and during the week days.

At the top of the town stands the FREE SCHOOL; for educating a certain number of Boys and Girls. The rent of a Farm and Land at Ipstones, should supply the Funds; but at present only a small sum is received for the proper purposes. The premises had suffered so much injury from time and neglect, that a large sum was required to repair them thoroughly; and the Farm House and Buildings were also in a delapidated condition; so that, for at least seven years, the rental of the Property will be required to pay off the Debts incurred by necessary repairs. When the whole estate again is available, we may fairly hope that this School will produce persons truly eminent for intelligence and industry.



Town Hall

In 1826, an Act of Parliament was obtained, constituting Burslem a Town, governed by a Chief Bailiff, with proper Officers, and a regular Police Establishment. The activity of those gentlemen who have hitherto filled the principal situation, has greatly promoted the general interests, by securing order and decorum, during the sabbath especially. The Public Offices are in the Town Hall.

 

The Town Hall was first erected in 1760, upon a plot of waste land called the May-pole bank; and the whole expenee was defrayed by public subscription; about thirty of the masters contributing equal sums to those given by the then Lords of the manor, Sir Nigel Gresley, Bart, and Ralph Sneyd, Esq. 10. each. It is a brick edifice on an ashler basement; and is alike creditable to the public taste and spirit of the parties who founded it, and the purposes for which it is designed. 

It became the rallying point of the market people, and soon was surrounded by stalls, (for the various purposes of retail dealers, and butchers,) which remained fixed on the spot several years, until they wore so injured by the weather, and the pilferage of boards, that they became almost a nuisance, and consequently were removed.

 

In the year 1824, the Town Hall underwent a complete repair both internally and externally, from the amount of money collected as Tolls in the market. The lower portion was divided into Watchhouse, Lockups, and a place for stalls, &c.; and the upper part into Offices for the Business of the Parish, and the Town; and also a spacious, well-furnished and beautiful Room, for Public Meetings, the holding of Petty Sessions every fortnight, and Public News Room for the respectable Inhabitants. In no town can there exist more unanimity on public affairs, than is evinced in Burslem.



Manufactories

The very extensive Manufactory of Enoch Wood and Sons, (which covers the sites of five old factories) has such a judicious arrangement, that it presents all the appearance of a most extensive Laboratory, and the Machinery of an Experimentalist. Here also is a Museum, altogether unique, containing Specimens of the Progress of this Art, from very early times, previous to any authentic historical records, up to the present day; some of which were found under the foundations of these Manufactories, and of other manufactories dilapidated more than eighty years ago. 

Two other manufactories in the town, also are occupied and owned by these gentlemen. At the west front of the large manufactoiy, this venerable Father of the Potteries and truly eminent Antiquarian, has a spacious and elegant mansion, surrounded by convenient pleasure grounds, having an extensive prospect over the summit Pond of the Trent and Mersey Canal. 

Besides these, in the town there are about twenty six other manufactories of some extent, and several small ones. The largest of these are occupied and owned by Josh. Machin & Co., T. & B. Goodwin, T. Heath, J. Cormie, John Hall & Sons, and John Riley Marsh; and from these we find every kind of Porcelain and Pottery regularly forwarded to all the marts of both continents.



Bichers Colliery

The Bichers Colliery, a little above the town, affords the opportunity of contemplating the advantages to be derived from a judicious combination of the Principles which distinguish the Steam Engines erected by Savory, Boulton and Watt, and Trevethick. In 1806, E. Wood, Esq. having to erect a powerful Steam Engine at this place, attempted to connect the Air pump and condenser, as well as the patent high pressure principle; and was so successful, that this Engine by him constructed here, has more than thrice the power of any previously made. Adjoining, he erected a mast commodious circular BATH, supplied with water, to any height of temperature, from 85 to 90. The interior is beautifully painted in Landscapes, and marine views; and the public are admitted for a very small acknowledgment.


The Big House

Near the northern extremity of the Market Place, is the Big House, so called, because when erected, it was indisputably the largest and best in the town of Burslem, if not in the whole District; but we incline to the latter conjecture. It is occupied by the younger Enoch Wood, Esq. well known and esteemed as a most intelligent manufacturer, and of the strictest integrity as a tradesman; and equally respected for his mental ability and the benevolence of his disposition. Another worthy brother resides in a beautiful mansion at Longport; and a third, eminent for his public and private virtues, is High or Chief Bailiff of Burslem.



Chapels

The Wesleyan Chapel is very large, capable of accommodating three thousand persons, and adjoining it is a Sunday School, where one thousand six hundred children regularly receive literary and religions instruction. There are Six other Chapels for different religious parties; but to their credit be it spoken, most of them are beginning to forget their peculiar dogmas, and to regard only the 'New Commandment,' in their conduct towards each other.



Joseph Machin

A short distance below, at the end of the Waterloo Road, is a Residence, as unassuming in its appearance, as is its deservedly respected proprietor, Joseph Machin, Esq. one of the most early enamellers, and for some time a manufacturer of Porcelain and Pottery. 

During a long period he has been a member, and for many years Steward, and principal supporter, of the Wesleyan Methodist Society in Burslem. We do not recollect having heard a whisper of any kind to his discredit; but the general voice is in his praise. 

The influence of his piety, as well as the sincerity of his religious profession, have been constantly manifested in the blameless tenor of his transactions as a tradesman, his candour and benevolence as a friend, and his liberality towards every institution designed to ameliorate the condition of mankind. 

One of his Sons, who resides near, appears to emulate all the virtues of his worthy parent. The other is of much promise as a first rate artist.

 

John Riley

At the lower part of the Furlong, or Newcastle road, is Portland House, late the residence of John Riley, Esq. deceased, and now of his disconsolate family. This gentleman and his Brother, Richard R. Esq. by perseverance amassed a very considerable property ; but both died in the vigour of manhood. The latter had just completed, but not entered upon, a very beautiful Mansion above the Hamill, called Bank House. Both were highly esteemed for their integrity as tradesmen, and their kindness as masters; and the town of Burslem will long enjoy the benefit of their exertions with others for its aggrandizement.

 

On the south side, near Mrs. Riley's, Mr. John Ward, Attorney, has erected a beautiful Villa. And the large House on the opposite bank is the residence of Thomas Heath, Esq. of whom it needs merely be stated, that he ranks among the highest class of the district for every characteristic estimable by mankind.

 

Trent and Mersey Canal

In the vale below Burslem, July 26, 1766, the first clod was cut of the Trent and Mersey Canal, by the late Josiah Wedgwood, Esq. then recently appointed Potter to the Queen Consort of George III. 

In 1816, on the 50th anniversary, all the respectable manufacturers of Burslem assembled to celebrate the event, and to pay a respectful compliment to that gentleman, a native of this town. 

On this occasion, the chair was filled by E. Wood, Esq. who had a personal acquaintance with the deceased; to whose merits he paid very ample acknowledgments, and greatly added to the interest excited, by an exhibition of the several gradations of the manufacture during at least one hundred and fifty years.

Indeed only those persons, who have seen the specimens, can form adequate ideas of the regular manner in which the numerous improvements have succeeded each other, from the coarse porrenger, and the Butter-pot, unto the fine Porcelain, and Jasper.

 

Longport and Dale Hole

LONGPORT, & DALE HOLE, have in the present century rapidly increased in population; having one Square, and several streets of New Houses already erected, and others laid out. To accommodate these the New Church is being erected near these places. There is a neat Wesleyan Chapel, and Sunday School, in Longport. 

This name originated in its being the last wharf from Etruria south of the tunnel, and the first reached by the boats from the northern side. Formerly a long range of stepping-stones were placed across the swampy meadows, forming the LONG BRIDGE, but when the Canal had drawn more passengers on the road, a raised or high way was formed, still existing.

In the Dale Hole the New Church is in progress, adapted for the increasing demands for public accommodation at religious worship. The style is gothic; and the whole when completed will be a beautiful specimen of architecture. It is dedicated to St. Paul, and the following inscription is engraved on a Brass Plate deposited in the Foundation Stone,

 

[here in Shaw's book is the Latin inscription and a translation 
- only the translation is recorded here]

 

FREE TRANSLATION.
The Foundation Stone of this Parochial Chapel, erected partly by a National Grant, and partly by Private Contributions, was laid by the Honourable and Right Reverend Henry Ryder, D.D.Lord Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, in the auspicious reign of George the Fourth, on the XXIV day of June, in the year of Redemption MDCCCXXVIII. The Glory be ascribed to God; the honour to our Country.

The situation is certainly low; and the population of Dale Hole, and Longport, will chiefly receive the advantages of the ministry in this place. Much anxiety was evinced to have a Church erected on the Jenkins, the most elevated spot in the town, and close adjoining to the Market Place; but whether the intention will be executed, cannot at present be with truth asserted.

At Longport is a very extensive and convenient manufactory of Pottery, Porcelain, and Glass, belonging to John Davenport, Esq. & Sons; also another near Newport, his Business Residence. J. Davenport, Esq. is well known as one of the most enterprizing; and successful Manufacturers. Of his worth as a private person, the numerous instances of his benevolence are the best testimonials.

Messrs. Williamson, and Messrs. Phillips hare extensive manufactories of Pottery; and the article produced at Dale Hole manufactory, belonging to Spencer Rogers, Esq, of the Watlands, is not excelled by any other production of the district.

The residence of Josh. Stubbs, Esq. has a very extended prospect southward along the Vale on whose northern banks the Potteries are established. The gentleman has long been esteemed for his excellencies of character.

Overlooking Longport, and a considerable portion of the District, is Porthill, the beautiful and almost sequestered residence of Mr. R. Daniel, (of the firm H. & R. D. of Stoke,) a gentleman equally esteemed for the virtues of his heart, and the stores of his mind.

Beyond, at a short distance, is Watlands, a superb mansion, and gardens, where Spencer Rogers, Esq. enjoys the sweets of domiciliary quiet, after the fatigues of commercial activity. This gentleman is well known as a manufacturer of superior talent, ami his worth, as a member of the Community, is very highly prized.


Hot Lane

IN HOT LANE, besides other manufactories, is that of Warburton, & Co. at which the first Cream Colour Pottery was manufactured on the improvement of Mr. E. Booth's fluid glaze. From a descendant of the person, Jacob Warburton, Esq. have been obtained some valuable remarks introduced in the proper places in this History.


Cobridge

COBRIDGE contains a number of houses, and is in both Burslem and Stoke Parishes. The elegant mansion of W. Adams, Esq. is in the former; while the neat and modest edifice belonging to J.Hales, Esq. is in the latter.

Thero is a Free School, erected about seventy years ago, and now occasionally beneficial to the poorer classes. A neat Chapel here belongs to the Methodist New Connection, with a Sunday School attached. 

Here is a very large Roman Catholic Chapel, and also a convenient School Room, for educating Youth by a method which embraces the useful of the systems of Bell and Lancaster, yet differs from both. 

At the Grange, near this place, formerly a very secluded spot, are the remains of an old Catholic Chapel, a mere thatched shed; probably the place of resort to that body of Christians, at the time when bigotry was rancorously pursuing its victims with merciless retaliation for real or supposed injuries.

At Cobridge are the Manufactories of R. Stevenson, J. & R. Clews. N. Dillon, Mansfield & Hackney, S. Godwin, S. Alcock, and some others not at present in operation. The various kinds of Pottery and Porcelain, are here manufactured in great perfection.

 


 

 

 

 



next: Chapter 2 - Haney & Shelton with their vicinity 
previous: Chapter 2 - Tunstall and its vicinity
contents: index of Shaw's book