John Beswick Ltd.,
Gold Street Works, Longton
"The Gold Street
Works, now-a-days identified with the firm of John Beswick, Ltd.,
has been in existence since 1829; but, since no fewer than eight
different proprietors owned the pottery between that date and 1897,
we propose here to record only its connection with the
present owners, who have raised the factory to the front rank as
specialists in producing Staffordshire 'Fancies' in great variety
and of striking beauty.
Wright Beswick was originally in the coal-mining industry, but his
pits at Chell had to close down in 1892. His son John, having
studied the potter's craft at Tunstall, then joined with his father
to start the pottery business as partners at Longton.
This short list
foreshadows, it will be noticed, the definite policy, adopted after
the 1914-1918 war, of specialising in fancy pottery for the home and
over-seas market. At the present day this type of wares accounts for
some 85% of the Beswick output.
three years, the Gold Street Works coming into the market in 1897,
they acquired them and the new firm entered upon its career as 'J.
W. Beswick'. From that date until about 1918 the firm gradually
expanded its activities, producing under-glaze, printed dinner,
tea and toilet wares as well as hospital wares and fancy goods,
such as pots and pedestals, vases in the so-called 'majolica'
glazes, toby-jugs, Old-English style figures and animals.
W. Beswick died in 1921 and his son in 1936, having brought
the firm to such a flourishing condition that it was converted
into a Limited Company in 1938. It was at this juncture that the
business title of John Beswick, Ltd. was adopted. The present
Managing Director, John Ewart Beswick and his Sales Director
Gilbert I. Beswick are both grandsons of the original founder.
In these post-second
War years extensive reconstructions have been made necessary by the
growth of the business. In 1940 it was realised that the firing
methods called for modernisation. But the change from the old
intermittent to continuous firing was hampered by want of space for
a modern tunnel kiln. It was only in 1945 that the adjoining factory
was acquired. It was thus made possible to convert the Gold Street
factory to accommodate an office block, together with the potting
and firing departments up to the biscuit stage. The other premises,
entirely reconstructed, provided the decorating section, warehouses
for the finished products and packing rooms, the whole giving an
even flow from slip-house to despatch. Gas fired tunnel kilns are
provided for biscuit, glost and enamel firing. The works are
therefore now as up-to-date as could well be.
are deservedly popular, especially overseas. The firm has one of the
finest ranges of ornamental wares in the whole industry. It has,
indeed, achieved remarkable success in its highly specialised lines,
which include life-like models, grave and gay, of equestrian
figures, dogs modelled from famous prize-winners, birds in great
variety, wild and domestic animals, fish, toby-jugs, salad ware and
cottage ware – which recall the old-time cottages beloved of
In addition John Beswick Ltd have
the sole rights in producing the many quaint characters in the
Beatrix Potter 'Peter Rabbit' Books, familiar to the young the world
over. First made in 1948 there is a great demand for these
favourites of the children, not only in the home market 'but in all
This article originally appeared in a 1956 book 'British Potters and