| index page for 'focus on' | 

Methodism in the Potteries 
Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme


John Wesley in the Potteries

next: Swan Bank Methodist Church, Burslem
previous: "Find your own way to heaven"

Mr Myatt's yard at Lane End

'1788, March 31st - Preached at lane End at six in the evening; the chapel not being able to contain one third of the congregation.'

'1790, Sunday, March 28th - I preached soon after one, in Mr. Myatt's yard at Lane End; the house would not contain a quarter of the people....'

Wesley's Journals


"..... Foley Place, built in the 1830s, and not meant for the poorer workers. It is an L-shaped block of two-storied houses, finished in stucco. The houses are Georgian in style and once had a communal garden, which is now a garage; there is a pub, the Foley Arms....

The Old Foley Pottery of Mr. Myatt and later James Kent Ltd
The Old Foley Pottery of Mr. Myatt and later James Kent Ltd
- demolished in 2006 -

....Finishing off this tantalisingly incomplete little corner of Georgian England is the Old Foley Pottery. It is the right shape and size and must be approaching two hundred years old.

It was in the yard of this works that the good man, John Wesley, preached one of his last sermons on Sunday, 28th March 1790. The bank was then in the possession of Mr Myatt, and passed, as such an old building must, through the hands of many manufacturers, who, like most local potters, have maintained an astonishingly high standard of production, decoration and design. The most recent occupants, James Kent, have been there since before 1900...."

"The attitude of the parish churches was one of take it or leave it; people were at liberty to find their own way to heaven unless they chose to go to church. Certain it was that the church would never come to them; it was too busy on the grouse-moors or attending to its farms and other such important pastoral pursuits. Wesley preferred to take his religion to the people who otherwise would not have had any, and that is how he came to be preaching in the yard of the Old Foley Pottery. The crowds, in those early days, were so big that he had to preach out of doors, since the buildings were too small to hold them, and when buildings were put up specially for the new sect they were often too small as well, leading to a further form of exclusiveness and discrimination.....

...... John Wesley had a soft spot for the people of the Towns. He said that, in the Towns, even the poor potters were a more civilised people than the so-called better sort at Congleton.

The period of his ministry saw great changes over the whole of the area. When he first came the industry was still in its infancy, and he thought that salt-glazing, with its poisonous fumes, predominated, though I doubt it did. He found the houses of the towns and villages "mean and poor", and the manners of the inhabitants were no better than their homes. Their pastimes were brutal; he named bull-baiting, cock-fighting and goose-riding."

"Portrait of the Potteries" Bill Morland


What was happening in the Potteries between 1740 and 1790

1738 - John Wesley makes his first preaching trip to Newcastle-under-Lyme.

1740 - By this date Thomas Whieldon had opened a small pottery in Fenton Low. Josiah Spode I was one of his apprentices. 

1740 - Methodist society formed at Burslem.

1748 - The burial of the so-called 'Burslem Witch' Margaret Leigh (Peggy Lee).

1749 - Josiah Spode I was apprenticed to Thomas Whieldon, for whom he worked until at least 1754.

1754 - Josiah Spode I married Ellen Finley who had a haberdashery business. They had seven children including Josiah Spode II.

Thomas Whieldon was in partnership with Josiah Wedgwood I from 1754 to 1759. Thomas Whieldon's products included salt glazed wares, agateware and a cream coloured earthenware which was later perfected as Queens Ware by Wedgwood.

1755 - Josiah Spode II born.

1759 - Josiah Wedgwood I rented the Ivy House Pottery Works, Burslem, from his uncles John and Thomas Wedgwood.

The Ivy House Works

1760 - Josiah Spode I began a pottery business on his own account about this date. He rented a works at Shelton and later, in partnership with William Tomlinson he rented the Barks and Turner pottery at Lane End.

1760 - John Wesley makes his first preaching trip to Burslem.

1761 - Burslem's first Town Hall Built.

Burslem's 1st town hall

1763 - The potters petitioned Parliament to build turnpike roads. The corporation of Newcastle-under-Lyme opposed this move since it would mean a loss of revue to the town - they had their own toll gates. A House of Commons Committee called for evidence from the petitioners and in 1763 Wedgwood told them that the roads were "in very bad condition, narrow in some parts, and in the Winter Season impassable in many places". Parliament granted their Bill and turnpikes were constructed.

1764 - Josiah Wedgwood I transferred his rapidly expanding business from Ivy House Works to the Brick House Works (also known as the Bell Works) in Church Street, Burslem. About this time he perfected the cream coloured earthenware which brought him the patronage of Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, it became known as Queens Ware.
Wedgwood met Thomas Bentley, a Liverpool merchant, who was to become his closest friend, confidant and later partner.

Brick House Works

1765 - Josiah Wedgwood records: "On Friday last I dined with Mr. Brindley, the Duke of Bridgewater's engineer, after which we had a meeting at the Leopard on the subject of a Navigation from Hull.... to Burslem" 

1766 - Josiah Wedgwood I purchased the Ridgehouse Estate and built a new factory there (opened on 13 June 1769). This factory was the nucleus of an industrial village which he called Etruria.

1769 - Josiah Wedgwood I opened his factory in Etruria (on the side of what was to be the Trent and Mersey Canal).

Etruria Works

Josiah Wedgwood II was born, the second son of Josiah Wedgwood I and Sarah nee Wedgwood. He eventually succeeded his father as head of the business. The elder son, John, had left the industry for banking and horticulture.

Work started on the Trent and Mersey Canal (completed in 1777).


1770 - Josiah Wedgwood I completes the building of Etruria Hall.

Etruria Hall

1773 - Josiah Wedgwood I commissioned by the Empress Catherine II of Russia to make a 1000 piece dinner service.

1775 - Josiah Spode II traded in London as a dealer in earthenware, glass and porcelain. In this year he married Elizabeth Barker and had two sons (including Josiah Spode III) and three daughters.

1776  - Josiah Spode I purchase the Barks and Turner factory in Lane End (he had been renting it from 1760) with a mortgage of 1000. 

1777 - The Trent and Mersey Canal completed. The engineer responsible was James Brindley, who died before the canal was completed.

'1784, March 31st - I reached Burslem, where we had the first society in the county, and it is still the largest, and the most earnest'.


John Wesley: Staffordshire ceramic bust
John Wesley: Staffordshire ceramic bust
In 1784, Wesley sat for Enoch Wood (1759-1840) 
who crafted the model for this bust of Staffordshire pottery. 
The artist claimed that Wesley had thought this likeness 
"much the best" that anyone had attempted.


1789 - Josiah Wedgwood I produced a replica of the Portland vase.

Longton's Times Square laid out.

'1790, Monday, March 29th - At nine I preached in the new chapel at Tunstall, the most elegant I have seen since I left Bath. The people seemed to devour the word."

John Wesley died in March 1791


next: Swan Bank Methodist Church, Burslem
previous: "Find your own way to heaven"