BRISTOL Pottery Delftware

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The pottery was probably originally started sometime between 1652 and 1656 by Robert Bennett and John Bissecke. It is known that Bissecke was last recorded at Montague Close, Southwark, in 1642. A John Collins may also have been involved. 1642 would not have been a good time to start a pottery near Bristol, as the Civil War began in that year. Bristol was twice besieged (1643 and 1645) and during 1643-45 the Bristol Channel was blockaded. The apprenticeship records of the clay pipe makers show little activity between 1642-50, indicating a likely recession. Following Bennett's death in 1659, Alice (his widow) ran the pottery until 1668. She was succeeded by her son, Robert, who in turn was succeeded by his widow, Sarah, in 1671. Sarah ran the pottery with Robert Wastfield (her second husband) until 1677, and on her own until 1678. Her daughter, also called Sarah, took over the pottery, with her husband (Thomas Dickson) in 1679. Dickson continued after her death in 1690, with Thomas Taylor in 1730. Taylor took over full control in 1733, but went bankrupt in 1743. The pottery had probably closed by 1746, but there is reference to a St Annes pottery on 31st March 1764, however this is almost certainly a different pottery.

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Temple Back (Water Lane)

In 1683 Edward Ward of the Brislington pottery purchased property in Bristol in Temple Back and began making delftware. In the previous year Ward, then living at St Annes, was made a burgess by order of the mayor. This may have been an attempt, by the city, to allow him to start manufacture in Bristol. Ward died in 1710, and his son (Edward II) took over the pottery, in turn he died in 1712. His brother, James, took over until 1732, when he was succeeded by his son James. James died in 1738 and his widow, Frances, took over. She did not pay any rates for 1743 and 1744, so presumably the pottery had closed. Thomas Cantle was paying rates by December 1745 and he was at the pottery until 1756, being followed by William Taylor (until 1777). William seems to have been in partnership with his brother Joseph. James also had a business in Castle Street, paying rates between 1723 and 1738. This business may have involved a James Pidgeon as he paid the rates for 1730-31. Frances also paid rates on two other properties in Castle Street for 1723-49. She had presumably died by 1750 as a Richard Ward took over one of the properties in that year.

In 1777 Richard Frank, having closed down his Redcliff Back pottery, took over at Temple Back, which appears to have been making mainly brown stoneware by that date. Frank may have had a financial interest in Temple Back from 1774. He was succeeded c1784 by his son-in-law Joseph Ring who, in 1786, switched production to the highly fashionable creamware. At the time of the sale to Joseph Ring an inventory was made, wich includes stoneware and cream color ware. Unpublished archaeology also shows that stoneware was made by c1725. A shard of a bellarmine has been found on the site, plus shards of high quality stoneware nearby. The latter included a shard of a small scratch blue bowl (probably a tea bowl). A single shard has been found on the site of Dwight's Fulham pottery dating from c1700. It was also made in Staffordshire from about 1720, so the item have come from there. Archaeology has shown that Temple Backs also made slip trailed earthenware and sugar moulds.

Thomas Taylor II, a nephew of William Taylor, is listed as a potter at Water Lane in 1768. He took two apprentices in his own name. I would assume that he was working for his uncle, since there is no record of him owning property in Water Lane.

Edward Ward paid rates on a mill at St Annes, Brislington, from 1694 until 1702. By 1704 it had been taken over by Thomas Frank.

In later days it was known as the Temple pottery and then the Bristol pottery. The pottery was at the east side of the junction between Temple Back and Water Lane (in Temple Parish). The site is now covered by modern buildings. For the further history of the pottery see Pountneys.

Redcliff Back Potteries

John Margerum had set-up the pottery, by 1705, on the site of Clark's glasshouse. A James Margarinn was apprenticed to John Campion, potter, in London on 13th October 1681. John and Thomas Frank, became involved in 1707. Although Thomas remained the owner, until his death in 1757, his son Richard became manager by 1741. It remained with Richard Frank until its closure in 1777. Richard was in partnership with his son Thomas II from 1766 to 1777. A large number of late Bristol pieces of delftware are attributed to this factory, and few to Temple Back. Both potteries also made stoneware, but it may have been a much larger part of the stoneware production was at Temple Back. In its later years the pottery produced landscapes and pieces decorated with bianco sopra bianco, some of the best of English delftware. Recent archaeology shows that the pottery also made combed slipware. Thomas Frank was recorded as paying rates on a mill at St Annes, Brislington, in 1704. Angerstein said that a Mr Franco (presumably Frank) had a water mill, in 1754, close to the river Avon, on the opposite bank from Hotwells, for stamping and grinding pottery glaze.

There was a second pottery in Redcliff Back, operated by John Harwell between 1756 and 1759, and by Richard Frank until 1761. Harwell had been apprenticed to Joseph Taylor. It is unlikely that any delftware was made there, the pottery being referred to as making stoneware. John Harwell made some stoneware sprigged mugs, with his name inscribed on the base. Dates have been recorded for 1738 (when he was still apprenticed to Joseph Taylor) and up to c1760. John Harwell may have become a retailer by 1761, as he is recorded as purchasing earthenware from John Wedgwood in 1761, 1767 and 1768. He is recorded with an address in Rackhy Street, but did not pay any rates in Rackhay, and in any case the street consisted of low value residential properties. The retailing activities may have been connected with Magnus Lundbery, who had property nearby, or Richard Frank. His son, Thomas, was also described as a potter when he gained his freedom of the city in 1774 (John was dead by then), but it would seem unlikely that he was ever an active potter.

Both potteries were at the end of Redcliff Back, on the south of where the road turns into Jones's Lane (in St. Mary Redcliff Parish). This is shown on a 1902 map. In more recent years that end of the Back, Jones's Lane and nearby Freshford Lane, have disappeared, due to the construction of Redcliff Way and its bridge. The site of the main pottery is possibly under Redcliff Way, to the west of the roundabout.

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Limekiln Lane

Limekiln Lane, also known as Cow Lane, ran along the base of Brandon Hill (St. Augustines's parish). There were two potteries there. The lower pottery started about 1706, by Mr Hobbs. A sea captain Woodes Rogers may have been an investor. Claims that it started in 1792 can be discounted, since the area was not developed until at least 1705. Between 1724 and 1734 John Weaver and William Pottery ran the business. Pottery had been apprenticed to Woodes Rogers, as a potmaker on 28th March 1707, becoming free on 20 Jun 1715. Charles Christopher, who was there until 1738, followed them. John Bundy then took over, but business ceased by 1746. A Pennington may have been involved in 1741. During the time of its operation, judging by the number of apprentices, it appears larger than the other potteries.

The upper pottery, operated by William Pottery, ran between 1734 and c1740. It was a separare business.

The site of the lower pottery is now occupied by St George's House, in St George's Road. The site of the upper pottery in unknown, presumably it was higher up Brandon Hill.

Redcliff Street Potteries

Edward Crofts operated a pottery at 108 Redcliff Street. He is first recorded as a potter in 1660. He leased 108 Redcliff Street on 6th March 1667 and 109 on 18th January 1668. He was dead by 9th November 1687. There is a connection with the Bissecke family of Brislington, Ann Bissecke bequeathing some of her personal effects to Crofts and his family in 1666. It is not known what Crofts made, the Bissecke connection may indicate delftware.

Pountney made a case that Thomas and Hugh Taylor, together with Richard Riley, operated a pottery in Redcliff Street. He refers to a shop in front of the factory. Ray has since demolished this case. However, more recently, Jackson and Price have shown that Joseph Taylor I was operating in Redcliff Street. He took the first apprentice, of five, in 1733. At least three of these apprentices would practice pottery elsewhere. In 1733, 1734 and 1739 he is described as a gallypot maker. He is recorded as having property in Redcliff Street in 1730, in 1749 this was described as a warehouse, and in 1751 different premises were described as a shop. No numbers are quoted for either property. Was he operating a small pottery, perhaps behind the shop, or was the shop only a part-time activity and he was employed as a master potter at Redcliff Back? The last record of him, as a potter, was in 1756. In 1771 he is mentioned in Fidlers Alley. He was dead by 1772. If he was operating a pottery it may have made stoneware rather than delftware, since one of his apprentices (John Harwell) was a known stoneware potter.

Temple Street (Mary Orchard)

Mary Orchard ran a pottery in Temple Street (Temple Parish), probably between 1700 and 1730, although the business had started at least as early as 1698. Mary Orchard is described as a gallypotmaker (delftware), although she may have also made red-ware (earthenware) and stoneware. She took nine apprentices between 1698 and 1720, two of whom were to be trained as as glassmakers (she was probably a partner in a glassmaking business situated elsewhere). Stoneware and delftware would have required different kilns, since the former were probably fired by coal and the latter by wood.

The property in Temple Street was leased from John Knight on 20th March 1700. Pountney says tha Knight was a privateer who sailed from Bristol. He also says that William Andrews put capital into the business. Andrews did take one apprentice in 1700. Pountney continues by saying that Mary was the widow of John Orchard, who had made large vessels for a glasshouse or glasshouses. He also says that Joseph Thrall (a pupil) continued the pottery until 1754. This is unlikely. In 1722 and 1727 Thrall is listed as a potter in St Mary Recliffe parish, in 1733 he was at Redcliff Back pottery, and by 1753 was a potter in St Philips parish.

The pottery was on the north side of Temple Street near Bear Lane. (shown by the rate books). Widow Orchard paid rates on the property for 1702-16. John Breach (or Brath) paid the rates for 1717-22 and also paid rates on other properties. The rateable value of 8 pounds per annum applied to both Orchard and Breach, indicating that it may have continued as a pottery until 1722. After 1722 the rateable value changed, which suggests a change of site usage.

Tucker Street and Avon Street (Paul Townsend)

Paul Townsend (described as a gallypot maker) operated in Tucker Street (Temple parish) between 1734 and 1738, and then in Avon Street (SS. Philips's and Jacob's parish) from 1739 until 1768. He took four apprentices. The pottery was advertised to be let on 20th August 1768 in Felix Farley's Bristol Journal. The advert refeers to Paul and John Townsend, and says that there was a newly built kiln of Stourbridge bricks, plus a large work-house Tucker Street has now disappeared. It was L shaped, one end forming a junction with Bath Street and Victoria Street, and the shorter side of the L rejoining Bath Street. Avon Street still remains, but the site of the pottery is unknown.


There was a pottery at Wincanton, in Somerset, probably between 1738 and 1750. Its owner was a master builder named Nathaniel Ireson. On 16th December 1746 Ireson insured the pottery for 300 pounds. Bristol potters may well have been employed, with a likely connection to Limekiln Lane. A John Lindslee died at Wincanton on 31st March 1747. It is not known if he was related to Thomas Lindslee, who was apprenticed at Limekiln Lane in 1726. Wincanton is particularly associated with powdered grounds and the mimosa pattern. Pountney found many kiln wasters on a now unknown site. More excavations were done, in the area, by Lipski in the 1950's. The pottery adjoined what was Ireson's house and the base of a square kiln has recently been excavated.

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