Stoke-on-Trent - Potworks of the week

contents: 2011 photos

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A. J. 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 and the A. J Wilkinson Royal Staffordshire Pottery
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  in Copeland Street
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.

Their products were solidly in the main-stream of Victorian taste  especially majolica wares of all types: jugs, bowls, flower pots and tableware.

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. 



Shorter & Son backstamps
Shorter & Son backstamps



A.J. Wilkinson, Burslem

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.

A.J. Wilkinson produced earthenware for the home markets but later on manufacture was confined to white graniteware for the United States.

Wilkinson also introduced, with considerable success, gold lustres on the graniteware.

The mark was the royal arms surmounted by the words ROYAL PATENT IRONSTONE and beneath, in three lines, ARTHUR J. WILKINSON. LATE R. ALCOCK, BURSLEM, ENGLAND.

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



Bizarre Ware - Crocus pattern - at Wilkinson's works
Bizarre Ware - Crocus pattern - at Wilkinson's works 

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.


an early Bizarre Ware mark - over stamped the Newport Pottery Co. Ltd. mark
an early Bizarre Ware mark - over stamped the Newport Pottery Co. Ltd. mark


Bizarre Ware - Crocus pattern - at the Newport Pottery works
Bizarre Ware - Crocus pattern - at the Newport Pottery works 


Clarice Cliff

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
Newport Pottery 
 A. J Wilkinson - Royal Staffordshire Pottery


Pottery factories off Newport Lane c. 1935
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
A. J. Wilkinson's Royal Staffordshire Pottery on the bank of the Trent & Mersey Canal

photo: ©

Colley Shorter died in 1963 after a two year illness. Clarice decided the time had come to retire and the Newport Pottery and Wilkinson factory sites were sold in 1964 to Midwinter's, this ended the production of all original Clarice Cliff wares. 

W.R. Midwinter's merged with Meakins in 1968, who in turn were absorbed by the Wedgwood group in 1970. The factory sites have now been redeveloped for housing.


The remains of the Clarice Cliff 'Bizarre' painting shop by the canal at Newport, Burslem - 1992
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


Copeland Street, Stoke
Shorter & Sons

from..... 1907 Staffordshire Sentinel 'Business Reference Guide to The Potteries, 
Newcastle & District'

[pottery works highlighted]

Copeland Street
(57, Glebe Street)


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




—Here is Liverpool Road—

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
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 
Copeland Street, Stoke - Google map 2010

Carlton Works - blue

contents: 2011 photos



Related pages the footsteps of Clarice Cliff - her life and times in Stoke-on-Trent. 

also see..

Potters operating in Stoke-on-Trent in 1947

Central Pottery, Market Place, Burslem

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external links..

Clarice Cliff Collectors Club - the original web site for Clarice collectors, founded in 1982 by Leonard Griffin.