English Country Pottery. Bristol Wheel-thrown Chimney Pots

We were out looking for garden edging tiles today in the local architectural reclaim yards and came across this big group of thrown terracotta chimney pots many of them with white slip decoration. You see them on roofs of older buildings around central Bristol and in places like Westbury-on-Trym. They are quite varied in form and height but essentially very similar. The straw-coloured fireclay extruded and moulded pots are later 19th and 20th century but the thrown ones are going to be late 18th to mid 19th in the main. 


The very tall ones have a thrown rim top and bottom and evidence of scraping and trimming about half way up. They have been made by throwing two pots and then joking them base to base. They are not likely to come from one pottery of course but there is a distinctive group with a soft orange colour and a thick rounded rim with a cord below that is often slashed or indented. 

There were a variety of red ware potteries in Bristol in the late 18th and early/mid 19th-century who could have made these including the Barton Hill Pottery I suppose (see blog 4 Feb 2014). These turn up most often on buildings of that period around West Bristol especially Westbury-on-Trym village. The Sugar House Pottery above Westbury on the edge of the Downs advertised chimney pots in the late 18th century and operated there until it moved into the centre of Bristol in the 1790s, finally closing in 1862.
This huge thrown pot came from a house in Woodbury Lane on the edge of the Downs and I would like to think it was a Sugar House Pottery one. The rim forms seem to vary enormously which may reflect time, different throwers or different potteries I suppose. As with many of the ones in the reclaim yard the slip coating is weathered. Again the join between the two pieces is fairly obvious. It is evidently worked and scraped and you can feel it clearly especially on the inside.
Thrown chimney-pot. Possibly Sugar House Pottery, Westbury-on-Trym. c.1800-1850. ht 92cm (36″)
The brickworks/potteries in Weston-super-Mare went on making wheel-thrown chimney pots into the late 19th century. I bought the pot below from a builder in Weston. Unusually it has a makers stamp on it -Conway G Warne Potteries, Weston-super-Mare and Clevedon. This mark was used from 1888 to around 1891. Unlike the earlier ones, these are never slip-washed. You just about see the slight irregularly half way down where the two pot bases meet. It is 81cm high (32″).

George Robinson’s Bull Lane Pottery, Brentford Essex, 1840s. Anon. Photograph from Giuldford Museum. Whereabouts of painting unknown. Size unknown. Source http://nurserygardeners.com/?p=318

This painting of the Bull Lane Pottery in Brentford, Essex dates from the 1840s and shows chimney pots being made. I have borrowed the image from Val Bott’s blog Nurserygardeners.com. Go to it for more information here. On his page click on the image to go to a larger version and again to blow it up to see the detail. The potter George Robinson has his name rouletted around the pots. I think he is throwing the upper halves of pots directly onto previously thrown lower halves – note the rims on the bottom of the pieces waiting for his attention behind him. They would have been thrown previously and left with a heavy mass of clay as a base and then inverted and recentred before throwing again. Other details include two types of wheel, a treadle operated one for ht slighter work and one powered by an apprentice for the big stuff. I imagine the real apprentice was a little larger than that!

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