Bristol Potters and Potteries

Research by Reg Jackson

Bristol Potteries - C

Research by Reg Jackson

[back to Potteries]

Castle Green Pottery

Castle Green, Castle Precincts.

Summary of operating dates and proprietors

c1770-1773 William Cookworthy
In partnership with Joseph Fry, Joseph Harford, Thomas Frank II and Richard Champion.
1773-1781 Richard Champion.

The pottery closed.

(Note: for transcripts of the newspaper advertisements for the wares produced by the Castle Green Pottery, see the biographies of William Cookworthy and Richard Champion under the Potters List section of the website).

It is not clear when William Cookworthy established his porcelain manufactory in Bristol.  According to Owen an advertisement for china ware painters, possibly required for a pottery in Bristol, appeared in the Worcester Journal in March 1770.  The pottery certainly existed by 1771 and was located in Castle Green in premises previously occupied by a Widow Tomlinson. The poor rate returns for 1769 show Tomlinson’s premises as void (i.e. unoccupied).  Unfortunately the return for 1770 does not survive, but in 1771 the occupiers of the premises were ‘Fry & Co’.  Joseph Fry was one of the original investors in Cookworthy’s porcelain works, together with Richard Champion, Joseph Harford and the potter, Thomas Frank II.  In October 1771 William Cookworthy and Company were advertising for a quantity of dry oak billet wood, about four feet long, ‘fit for potter’s use’, for their china manufactory in Castle Green.

It is possible that Cookworthy continued operating the pottery until 1773, although Richard Champion was taking apprentice potters in January 1772 and was clearly involved in the running of the pottery by that date.  Champion continued operating the pottery after Cookworthy sold him the business and his patent, which is thought to have occurred in 1773.  Champion purchased the business using money advanced by Dr Joseph Fry, his sister Sarah Champion, Joseph Harford, James Brice and Thomas Frank II, forming the firm of Richard Champion and Company.

In 1775 Richard Champion was described as a china manufacturer with his works at 15 Castle Green and his house at 17 Castle Green.

In November 1780 Josiah Wedgewood wrote to Bentley that: ‘Amongst other things Mr Champion of Bristol has taken me up near two days.  He is come amongst us to dispose of his secret – his patent, etc., and, who could have believed it – has chosen me for his friend and confidante!  I shall not deceive him for I really feel much for his situation.  A wife and eight children (to say nothing of himself) to provide for and out of what I fear will not be thought of much value here – The secret of China making.  He tells me he has sunk fifteen thousand pounds in this gulf, and his idea is now to sell the whole art, mystery and patent for six …’.

In 1781 a group of Staffordshire potters purchased the patent and the services of Champion and started the New Hall Pottery at Shelton in 1782.

This marked the end of the Castle Green Pottery whose premises were subsequently used by Israel Cary, a clay tobacco pipe manufacturer. In March 1782 Richard Champion was made Deputy Paymaster General to the His Majesties Forces.  He died on 7 October 1791 near Camden in South Carolina, North America.

Wares produced


Counterslip Pottery

Counterslip, Temple parish.

Summary of operating dates and proprietors

c1764-1776 Charles Read.
1776-1783 The pottery was carried on by Edward Lacon for the benefit of Charles Read’s under-aged sons, Joseph and William Read.
1783-1785 Joseph Gadd and Thomas Patience.
1786-1796 Joseph Gadd & Company.
1796-1797 Joseph Gadd and Charles Price I.
1798-1802 William Maynard II.

The pottery closed.

It is not known when Charles Reed established the Counterslip Pottery. The first reference to it was in March 1764 when the following advertisement appeared in Felix Farley’s Journal: ‘At Read & Co’s Pothouse at Counterslip near Temple Cross, Bristol, merchants and others may be supplied with all sorts of stone bottles as cheap as imported. Also pickling jars, etc, 30 per cent under common selling price in this city.  Also all sorts of muggs, etc, at lowest prices’.

Sketchley’s directory recorded him as a potter at 3 Counterslip in 1775.  However, he had died by 26 March 1776 when his executor advertised that: ‘All persons who have demands on the late Charles Read, potter in Temple St., are desired to send their particulars to Mr Edward Lacon, linendraper, Bristol, Admin., who respectfully acquaints the friends and customers of the deceased that the trade is carried on at the usual place by and for the benefit of his sons Joseph and William Read (till they come of age) where any orders they may be favoured with, shall be punctually executed and gratefully acknowledged by them as well as their obedient humble servant Edward Lacon’.

The Counterslip Pottery was taken over by Joseph Gadd and Thomas Patience in 1783, with a firm called Joseph Gadd and Company running the pottery after Thomas Patience’s death in December 1785.

In November 1796 Joseph Gadd had entered into a partnership with Charles Price I which was referred to in his will as ‘the joint trade or co-partnership with Mr Charles Price of the said City of Bristol; in the art or trade as manufacturers of brown stone ware’. In 1797 Gadd and Price transferred their business to the 124 Temple Street Pottery.

In 1798 William Maynard II took over the Counterslip Pottery, having previously been running the St Philip’s Pottery 3 in Bread Street.  He ran the Counterslip Pottery until 1802 when it closed.

Wares produced

Stonewares, including bottles, pickling jars, mugs and water pipes.
Red earthenwares, including garden pots and chimney pots.

Crews Hole Pottery

(also known as Amatt’s Pottery)
Crews Hole, St George.

Summary of operating dates and proprietors

c1819-1827 Anthony Amatt.

The pottery closed.

Anthony Amatt was born in Wirksworth in Derbyshire and had allegedly worked as a china enameller at the Cockpit Hill Pottery in Derby.  In Bristol, possibly from 1798, he worked as a worsted and cotton manufacturer until 1818 when he advertised his factory for sale.

It was around this time that he established a pottery on the south bank of the River Avon at Crews Hole.  He is certainly recorded as being in Crews Hole in the St George rate book for 1819.

In September 1827, at the age of 66, he advertised his pottery for sale in the Bristol Mercury: Lot 1 was an excellent newly-built dwelling house, comprising a kitchen, arched cellar, larder, wash-house, dining room, with a verandah fronting the River Avon, a parlour behind, china pantry, three good bedrooms and two attics. Also ‘an extensive manufactory adjoining, and measuring 204 feet in length, and of an irregular depth throughout from 42 feet east to 17 feet west, consisting of a ground-floor and two stories, three large burning kilns, slip kilns, stoves, clay-house, drying-rooms, warehouse, lathes and wheels, pot-boards, squeezing-box, plaster-moulds, colour-mill, crane, and every other convenience necessary for carrying on an extensive trade in the manufacture of earthenware.  A never failing stream of excellent clear water runs through the manufactory.  The premises have been substantially built within the last 8 years … The whole ranges in front of the River Avon … for which there are every facility for loading and unloading goods, and there is also a constant communication by canal boats and barges passing to and from Bristol, Bath, London, and all the towns upon the lines of the Kennet and Avon, and the Wilts and Berks, canals.  There is an abundance of coal within three quarters of a mile …  Lot 2 a coal yard adjoining Lot 1, and extending 112 feet in length by 54 feet in depth at the west and 32 feet at the east end … Also a capital newly erected warehouse thereon, 55 feet long and 17 feet wide, with a stable and slip-kiln … Lot 3 a large and productive garden opposite Lot 1, and fronting the south, containing about half an acre, and well stocked with fruit trees in full bearing’.

Pountney (1920, 17-18) stated that ‘Another noted pottery was close to the Lamb at Crew’s Hole, where two fairly large kilns, built of pennant stone, are still standing.  They were situated within a large building of two floors, and the cones pass through the first floor and roof, and extend to a considerable height above the latter.  On both the ground floor and the first floor levels are arched entrances, used by the potters for stacking the saggars when loading the wares into the kilns.  These and the furnaces around the base can still be seen’.

In 1938 the City and Council of Bristol made a Clearance Order for nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 Stacey’s Rank; The Pottery, Crews Hole Road; and cottage occupied by Jones, Lamb Hill (Western Daily Press).

Wares produced

Fine industrial slip wares and mocha wares.

Crown Pottery

Cloud’s Hill Avenue, St George.

Summary of operating dates and proprietors

1870-1885 John Ellis II.
1885-1887 Arthur Ellis.
1888-1904 Crown Pottery Company.

The pottery closed.

John Ellis II had been the managing director of the Bristol Victoria Pottery Company and on leaving that concern he founded the Crown Pottery which opened in December 1870.  The Bristol Times and Mirror recorded the opening: ‘Mr John Ellis, formerly the enterprising managing director of the Victoria Pottery, St Philip’s, has just completed a new and very extensive establishment at St George’s and the inaugural dinner was held yesterday evening.  The meal was served in the spacious sale and sorting rooms … and upwards of 120 employees and friends of the proprietor were present … Mr David Johnson then presented to Mr Ellis, on behalf of the employees at the Redcross Street works [the Redcross Street Pottery] and the new pottery, a very handsome timepiece’.

In 1881 John Ellis II was described as a master potter, employing 19 men and boys, and living at Plummers Hill, St George.

He died in March 1885 and the pottery was taken over by his son, Arthur Ellis.  Unfortunately Arthur died in March the following year and in June 1886 the Crown Pottery was advertised for sale in the Western Daily Press: ‘In consequence of the death of the late proprietor, the executor of the estate is prepared to sell this very desirable and compact business which has been carried on so successfully for some years past, and was in full work until very recently. The business presents an admirable opportunity for investment of a moderate capital, and can be continued at once as a going concern’.

In August 1886    the Crown Pottery was advertised in the Bristol Mercury for sale by auction and it was described as ‘all that close of freehold land, containing 2 acres (more or less), and situate at St George’s, with the various buildings erected thereon; consisting of a commodious dwelling house, counting house, capital warehouses, kilns, workshops, etc. The valuable machinery and plant, including a 20 horse-power steam engine and boiler, and the goodwill of the business will be included in the sale. The pottery is situate within easy distance of Bristol, but being just outside the city boundary the taxes are low. A never failing stream of pure water runs through the premises.  The late Mr Ellis carried on a lucrative business for many years on the above premises, and as the same are in full working order, a capital opportunity is now afforded to any gentleman desirous of embarking in the pottery trade’.

The pottery was acquired by Thomas Bertram Johnston, trading as Pountney and Company, who was also running the Water Lane Pottery and the Bristol Victoria Pottery.  The Crown Pottery Company was listed in the directories until 1904 although it is possible that it had closed by 27 July 1901 when a J.H. Crawley  stated that he was intending to use the pottery as a soap boiling manufactory.

Wares produced

Earthenwares – possibly transfer-printed earthenwares.