Famous Potters of Stoke-on-Trent


The history of Spode
The Spode family worked in pottery in Staffordshire as early as 1762.
Three generations of the Spode family operated in Stoke-upon-Trent
and the company continued on the same site for nearly 250 years  

Spode has been part of Stoke-on-Trent's industrial heritage for almost 250 years. On 6th November 2008 it called in administrators, who said the china maker had been hit by the recession and left cash-strapped because of a failure to sell part of its Church Road factory for development.

In April 2009 it was announced that the Stoke based Portmeirion pottery company had bought Spode and Royal Worcester from the hands of administrators, thus ensuring the continuance of these names.

POTTERY has been manufactured at Spode's Church Street site since around 1750, more than 10 years before Josiah Spode established his business in 1767.

The success of the venture meant Josiah was able to buy the Church Street factory from his former employer, William Banks.
In the late 18th century Josiah produced what has been described as the single most significant development in the history of his industry the perfection of the formula for fine bone china.

The Prince of Wales visited the factory in 1806 and, impressed by what he saw, asked Spode to produce the banqueting service for his coronation as George IV. The company has held Royal Warrants ever since, and has also received commissions from the East India Company, Charles Dickens and the Shah of Persia.

In 1867 the company's official trade name was changed to WT Copeland and Sons, only reverting back to Spode in 1970.
Spode is renowned for its blue and white Willow pattern, developed by the original Josiah Spode from a pattern called Mandarin in about 1790.

Entrance to Spode Pottery Works, Stoke
Entrance to Spode Pottery Works, Stoke
Main entrance to the Spode Pottery Works on Church Street. Established c.1770, the pottery still (2009) occupies its original site. The factory chimney is visible behind


The backstamp for one of the dinner services made for the ill fated Titanic
The backstamp for one of the dinner services
made for the ill fated Titanic

1) Josiah Spode (1733-1797) Founder of the Spode pottery manufactory and known as Josiah Spode I even though his father was also a Josiah Spode.

Josiah I was born on 23rd March 1733 - the only son of poor parents in Lane Delph a village in  Stoke-on-Trent, in Staffordshire, England. When he was six, his father died and was buried in a pauper's grave.

From the age of 16 in 1749, Josiah was apprenticed to one of the best potters in the area, Thomas Whieldon.

Josiah Spode I, 1733-97
Josiah Spode I, 1733-97

He remained with Whieldon until he was 21. After his departure, Spode seems to have worked for and in partnership with other potters in the area. Independent research has shown that there has been another pottery on the present Spode site since 1751, Spode established a business in Stoke-on-Trent in 1767 and his outright ownership of the present works dates from 1776.

Tomb of Josiah Spode I & his wife
Tomb of Josiah Spode I & his wife
Chest tombs of Spode family in the grounds of Church of St. Peter Ad Vincula, Stoke


"Sacred to the memory of
who died 18th August 1797
aged 64"

Ellen Spode

"In memory of 
Ellen, wife of Josiah Spode
who died 17 Jan 1802 aged 76"


2) Josiah Spode II (1755-1827) While his father (Josiah Spode I) ran and developed the pottery works in Stoke Josiah Spode II trained as a potter and ran the firm's warehouse in London.

He took over the pottery factory from his father in 1797. Josiah Spode II led the development of bone china, which became the standard English porcelain body from about 1800 onwards.


The Mount - home of Josiah Spode II
The Mount - home of Josiah Spode II
"The Mount" was built c.1803-4. 

"Of the mansions within the Township of Penkhull, (we may say, indeed, within the compass of the Borough,) "THE MOUNT," erected by the late Josiah Spode, Esq., bears acknowledged pre-eminence. It stands near the village, and is surrounded by plantations and a highly-ornamental domain. The house is an oblong building of stone, with a semi-circular entrance on the west front; an elegant and lofty dome"

Josiah Spode the II & III
Josiah Spode the II & III


"Sacred to the memory of
of the Mount
who died July 16th 1827
aged 72 years"


"Sacred to the memory of
of the Mount
who died October 6th 1829
aged 52 years"

3) Copeland and Garrett   - William Copeland had become a partner in 1797 and after Josiah Spode II died in 1827, William Copeland's son, William Taylor Copeland, bought the business from the Trustees of Josiah Spode III. Thus in 1833 William Taylor became sole owner. But he took unto himself a partner, Thomas Garrett and the firm became 'Copeland and Garrett', continuing so until 1847.

4) The Copeland family  From 1847 William Copeland continued on his own.

In 1867 William Taylor Copeland's four sons were taken into partnership - eventually the proprietorship devolved upon the youngest of the four sons, Richard P. Copeland, whose sons in their turn are became the senior members of the firm. In 1932, the business was turned into a private limited company, under the name of W. T. Copeland and Sons Ltd.

The firm remained in the Copeland family until 1966. The Spode brand name was used alongside the Copeland name throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, often styled 'Copeland late Spode'. In 1970 to commemorate the founder the company name was changed to Spode.

Spode and the Royal Warrants of Appointment

Royal Warrants are granted to people or companies who have regularly supplied goods or services for a minimum of five years to the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh or the Prince of Wales.

The history of Spode and The Royal Warrants of Appointment is as follows:

1806 - the first Royal Warrant was awarded to Josiah Spode II following a visit by the Prince of Wales and The Duke of Clarence to the Spode works in Stoke. He was appointed Potter and English Porcelain Manufacturer to H.R.H. the Prince of Wales.

1820 - Potter to H.M. King George IV
1866 - Manufacturers of China and Glass to H.R.H. The Prince of Wales
1901 - Manufacturers of China to H. M. King Edward VII
1910 - Purveyors of China to H.M. King George V
1938 - Purveyors of China to H.M. Queen Mary
1971 - Manufacturers of China to H.M. Queen Elizabeth II

Spode works in 1927
Spode works in 1927

Spode works in 2008
Spode works in 2008

china figure making 2nd Aug 1899
china figure making 2nd Aug 1899
Taken at the Spode pottery factory, Stoke-on-Trent.

The modeller is assembling Parian objects. Parian is the name given to the white biscuit porcelain primarily associated with figure modelling.

A stack of moulds can be seen on the modeller's bench.

Spode Museum Trust
Staffordshire Past Track


Bottle kilns at the Spode works c.1900-1930
Bottle kilns at the Spode works c.1900-1930

All these coal fired kilns were demolished
and replaced with electric fired kilns.
- only the base of one of the old kilns remained. 

The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery
Staffordshire Past Track



On-line resources on Spode.. 

visit the Spode online exhibition

also see the Spode History BlogSpot which is run by Pam Wooliscroft who was the curator of the Spode Museum Trust. 

The Spode Museum Trust 

The Spode Museum Trust is the main source of information concerning Spode:
the history of the factory, the families and the products.

The Spode Museum Trust            www.spodemuseumtrust.org

Spode Works Visitor Centre        www.spodeworks.org


questions/comments/contributions? email: Steve Birks