Etruria: Etruria and Josiah Wedgwood (1760 onwards)


 Wedgwood's factory 


Location 3 on the index map



Joseph Pickford, architect from Derby, designed the new factory in consultation with Josiah Wedgwood. Correspondence between Josiah Wedgwood and his partner, Thomas Bentley, provides us with a detailed account of the building of the factory. The front of the works facing the Trent and Mersey Canal was a symmetrical composition with a three story central range surmounted by a cupola containing a bell and two lower wings on either side two stones in height. 

There was a roundhouse at each end of the main façade. The original use of these two buildings is unknown but they may have been used as storerooms. The illustration at the bottom shows the factory from the canal bridge at Etruria Road in 1794. Towering over the front range was the windmill designed by Erasmus Darwin for grinding colours. Between 1782 and 1784 this was superseded by a Boulton and Watt steam engine installed for driving the clay, flint and colour mills. 

The factory behind the front ranges was divided into the Useful and Ornamental Works each laid out around its own square (see the 1877 Ordnance Survey map of the works). Although the factory was opened in 1769 construction on the site continued for many years afterwards. 

In the early 19th century china works were added to the north of the Ornamental Works and there are payments in the Wedgwood collection to John Pepper, the architect from Newcastle-under-Lyme, for work at the factory. 

The site was bounded on the east by the canal from which two branches were taken into the works. The previous illustration shows the entrance to the branch canal under the canal bridge on the right. Production on the site lasted until 1940 when the earthenware department was transferred to the new factory at Barlaston. The last of the factory buildings were demolished in the mid 1960s and all that remains of the original works is the northern “roundhouse” now part of the premises occupied by the Sentinel newspaper.


The factory from the canal bridge at Etruria Road in 1794
The factory from the canal bridge at Etruria Road in 1794


next is Etruria Village 

questions/comments/contributions? email: Steve Birks