Bristol Potters and Potteries

Research by Reg Jackson

Bristol Potteries - L

Research by Reg Jackson

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Lawrence Hill Pottery

Lawrence Hill, St Philip and Jacob parish.

Summary of operating dates and proprietors

c1808-c1845 Uriah Alsop I.

There is also a reference to an Ann Cantle working in Lawrence Hill in 1819.
There are no subsequent references to the pottery.

Uriah Alsop I was first noted as a potter in Lawrence Hill in the Tolzey Court records for March 1808.  He was also recorded as a potter in Lawrence Hill in the poll books and street directories from 1808 to 1830 and in the lists of electors for 1832 and 1834.  He took his son Uriah Alsop II as an apprentice in 1823.

He was noted as a stoneware potter on the marriage of his daughter in January 1845, but this does necessarily mean he was still alive.  There is a record of Uriah Alsop, aged 62, being buried in Bristol in 1832, although this is contradicted by his appearance in the 1834 list of electors, suggesting perhaps that the Uriah Alsop buried in 1832 was not the potter.

Wares produced


Leek Lane Pottery

Leek Lane, St Paul’s parish.

Summary of operating dates and proprietors

1809-1810 Daniel Organ.
c1812-1834 John Hassall & Company.

The pottery appears to have closed.

It is not known when Daniel Organ established the Leek Lane Pottery.  It was presumably operating by November 1808 when he took an apprentice and between 1809 and 1811 he was described in the street directories as a manufacturer of brown stone ware, melting pots, etc. in Leek Lane.

However by September 1810 he had been declared bankrupt and Felix Farley’s Journal carried the advertisement: ‘To potters, chymists, distillers, spirit merchants, and the public at large.  To be sold by auction by W. Vigor.  On Tuesday the 25th of September, and following days, at ten o’clock, on the premises, in Leek Lane, St Paul’s, Bristol.  All the stock in trade of Daniel Organ, potter, a bankrupt, together with the implements, etc used in and about the same trade; consisting of crucibles from an established maker, and every description of brown stone bottles, barrels, jars, jugs, pitchers, pots, etc usually manufactured by a potter, as also a large quantity of clay.  The whole to be sold without reserve in suitable and convenient lots for the accommodation of the buyers.  There being a quantity of ware marked with the customers’ names, the same may be taken immediately, with a reduction of 25 per cent from the wholesale price, and a considerable abatement will be made on every other part of the ware.      The premises are to be let on lease, and are very convenient for carrying on the above business, should any one be disposed to take thereto, and to the stock’.

In March 1812 the same newspaper advertised to let ‘Extensive premises, situate in Leek-lane, in the parish of St Paul’s, lately used as a brown stone manufactory, and fitted up with kilns, etc, etc, compleat – These premises may be altered so as to suit any large manufactory or business requiring room …’.

The Leek Lane Pottery was rented by John Hassall, trading as John Hassall & Company, who was recorded in the street directories from 1813 to 1834 as a brown stone potter or stone ware manufacturer in Leek Lane.  In 1834 he was operating in Leek Lane and Thrissell Street and in 1835 in Thrissell Street only.  There is no further known documentary reference to the Leek Lane Pottery and it appears to have closed by 1835.

Wares produced

Stonewares, including bottles, barrels, jars, jugs, pitchers and ‘melting pots’, which were probably the crucibles used in glass furnaces.

Lewins Mead Pottery

Lewins Mead, St Michael’s parish.

Summary of operating dates and proprietors

1771 The pottery operated by John Gates was offered for sale.

Nothing else is known of this pottery.

All that is known about the Lewins Mead Pottery is that it was being operated by John Gates for some time before August 1771 when it was advertised for sale in the Bristol Gazette: ‘Now selling off, under prime-cost (on the premises) All the stock in trade, belonging to the pot-house, opposite the White Friars in Lewins-Mead, Bristol, lately in the possession of John Gates; consisting of brown stone ware, viz., oil-jars, pickling pots, pitchers, quart, pint, and half pint mugs, etc.  Also the pot-house compleat, to be let, with a kiln built on the premises, four good wheels standing, plenty of pot-boards, and all sorts of utensils necessary for a pot-manufactory, Likewise four dwelling rooms, belonging to the said pot-house, with every other useful conveniency for such a work – The premises may be viewed and further particulars had by applying to John Gates, aforesaid’.

Wares produced

Stonewares, including oil jars, pickling pots, pitchers, quart, pint and half-pint mugs.

Limekiln Lane Pottery 1

Limekiln Lane (also known as Cow Lane), St Augustine’s parish.

Summary of operating dates and proprietors

c1706-1723 Henry Hobbs.
1725-1734 William Pottery and John Weaver.
1735-1738 Charles Christopher.
1739-c1741 Josiah Bundy.

Josiah Bundy died in 1741 and the pottery appears to have closed.

The pottery was built on the site of a walled garden adjoining Brandon Hill by Henry Hobbs who was described as a carpenter in 1693.  It is not known when he established the pottery but it was some time between about 1700, when the site of the pottery was referred to as a garden, and 1706, when Hobbs was first recorded as a potmaker.  The pottery was described as ‘new erected’ in 1707 and in the same year Hobbs was recorded as exporting earthenwares.  Between 1706 and 1708 he took apprentices with a ‘co-partner’, but the identity of the co-partner is not known.  Hobbs was recorded as a potmaker or a gallypotmaker.  He probably died in 1722 or 1723 when he stopped paying land tax on the pottery, which was noted as ‘void’ (i.e. unoccupied) in the first half of 1723.  He was certainly dead by October 1725.

The pottery was then taken over by William Pottery and John Weaver, probably by 1724 when Weaver took his first apprentice.  Pottery and Weaver were recorded as jointly paying rates on the pottery in 1728/29 and they were both taking apprentices as gallypotmakers between 1724 and 1734.  John Weaver died in 1734 and William Pottery established the Limekiln Lane Pottery 2.

The Limekiln Lane Pottery 1 was taken over by Charles Christopher who was certainly working there in 1735.  However, the land tax returns for September 1737 to September 1738 recorded the pottery as ‘void’ and Charles Christopher must have given up the business.

It was occupied by Josiah Bundy by 1739 when he took over the apprenticeships of James Grant and John Bowen from Charles Christopher. Bundy had died by November 1741 when his apprentices were transferred to James Gaynard and his wife had left the trade.  The pottery closed after his death.

Wares produced

Tin-glazed earthenwares.

Finds of waste pottery and kiln material

Jackson, R. & P. and Beckey, I. 1991. Tin-glazed earthenware kiln waste from the Limekiln Lane Potteries, Bristol. Journal of the Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology 25, 89-114.
The report describes the recovery in 1984 of tin-glazed earthenware kiln waste from the vicinity of the Limekiln Lane potteries, compares this with contemporary material excavated from London and Bristol, and argues that the kiln waste was produced between about 1715 and 1725 by Henry Hobbs and Company. One hundred sherds of waste pottery are illustrated which includes plates, bowls, dishes, albarello-type and cauldron-type containers, chamber pots, mugs, storage vessels, other domestic vessels, ‘number pots’ and tiles.  The kiln furniture is also illustrated and includes saggars, kiln tiles and pegs.
(HER no. 534; BRSMG accession no. 35/1984).

See also under Limekiln Lane Pottery 2.


Limekiln Lane Pottery 2

Limekiln Lane (also known as Cow Lane), St Augustine’s parish.

Summary of operating dates and proprietors

1734-1739 William Pottery.

The pottery closed.

In the land tax return for March to September 1734 William Pottery was paying tax on a pottery in Limekiln Lane which, in the return for 1734/35, was referred to as ‘Mr Pottery’s New Pothouse & dwelling ho’.  This was the Limekiln Lane Pottery 2.  However it only existed for a short period of time, as it was described as ‘void’ in the land tax return for March 1739 to March 1740.  The pottery does not seem to have operated subsequently and William Pottery died in June 1742.

Wares produced

Tin-glazed earthenwares.

Finds of waste pottery and kiln material

There have been a number of finds of kiln waste from the area of the Limekiln Lane Potteries, although it has not been possible to determine which of the two potteries they came from:
Pountney, W.J. 1920. Old Bristol Potteries. Bristol. In note 13, p.xxxii.
In 1920 Pountney recorded that when buildings were being erected on the site of the Limekiln Lane potteries the workmen removed much soil containing saggars, drug jars and other vessels, and used this material to fill a quarry on the south side of Brandon Hill.

Maxwell, H.W. 1939. Recent excavations in Bristol. Transactions of the English Ceramic Circle 2.7, 115-119.
In 1939 Maxwell published details of his excavations at a site on Brandon Hill which was described as being south-west of the quarry mentioned by Pountney (see above).  He uncovered large quantities of wasters which were found close to the surface.  He felt that the wasters had been dumped on the surface of the hill at the back of the potteries and had become covered with a thin layer of soil washed down the hill.

Lipski, L.L. 1969. Dated English delftware. Transactions of the English Ceramic Circle 7.2, 149.
Lipski refers to digging being undertaken on Brandon Hill after 1948 and he was given the finds from that work when he excavated the same site a few years later.

Fowler, P.J. (ed.) 1973. Archaeological review for 1972. Bristol. p.61.
In 1972, during re-seeding of the southern slopes of Brandon Hill, considerable quantities of kiln furniture and wasters were found and recovered.  Apparently two sherds of soft paste porcelain dating c.1700-1740 were found at the same time.
(HER no. 2).

Potter, K. 2006. Archaeological watching brief at Brandon Hill, Clifton, Bristol. Bristol and Region Archaeological Services unpublished report no. 1599/2006. Appendix 3: The tin-glazed earthenware kiln waste by Reg Jackson.
An assemblage of tin-glazed earthenware kiln waste was recovered from a cable trench during a watching brief on Brandon Hill.  There were 71 fragments of kiln shelves, 14 girder fragments, cylindrical saggars, some with triangular side openings, and sherds of vessels including cauldron-type containers, bowls, plates, an urn-shaped vase, mugs and jugs.  The waste was thought to date to after about 1720.
(HER no. 4274; BRSMG accession no. 2006/11).

Lund’s Pottery

Location unknown.

Summary of operating dates and proprietors

c1749-52 Benjamin Lund and William Miller.

The pottery was sold in 1752 and appears not to have operated after that date.

The first reference to Benjamin Lund in connection with the production of porcelain in Bristol was in March 1749 when he was granted a licence for a term of twenty one years to quarry soap rock from Gewcrease in the parish of Mullion, Cornwall.  He was to begin operations within three months of that date, to pay dues of 10s a ton to the landowner and to draw at least 20 tons of the rock a year.

Considerable research has been carried out into the quarrying of soap rock by Robert Felce and was published in 2011 in his book, Soaprock Coast. The origins of English porcelain (ISBN 978-0-9569895-0-5).  He quotes the licence issued to Lund by the landowner John West which allowed him ‘to break up, take and carry away such parts and parcells as he and they shall think proper of all that soft rock commonly called or known by the name of the soaprock lying in Gewgreaze Cove within the tenement or Great Inclosure called or known by the name of Kinance [Kynance] in the parish of Mullion in the county of Cornwall … and also to dig or search for ye same or ye like clays or rocks in and throughout those parts of the said tenement or inclosure which now or late were in ye tenure or occupation of Barnard Richards Richard Sampson and James and John Harry or any or either of them their or any of their undertenant or undertenants and to raise and break up and take and carry away ye same to and for his and their own use and uses and at his or their own wills and pleasures (provided and so as ye said Benjamin Lund … and all workmen and labourers and others to be employed by or under him do as little damage as possible to ye said tenement …’.

In November 1750 Dr Richard Pococke, an Irish traveller, wrote to his mother about a visit he had made to a Bristol porcelain factory in 1750: ‘I went to see a manufacture lately established here by one of the principal manufacturers at Limehouse which failed.  It is at a glasshouse & is called Loudn’s Glass-house. They have two sorts of ware, one called Stone china which has a yellow cast, both in the ware & the glazing, that I suppose is made of pipe-clay & calcin’d flint. The other they call Old China, that is whiter & I suppose this is made of calcin’d flint & the soapy rock at Lizard point which ‘tis known they use, this is painted blue & somewhat like old white china of a yellowish cast; another kind is white with a blewish cast; & both called fine ornamental white china; they make very beautiful white sauce boats adorned with reliefs of festoons which sell for sixteen shillings a pair’.  It is not known who Pococke was referring to as ‘one of the principal manufacturers at Limehouse’.  There is no record of either Benjamin Lund or William Miller having been connected with the Limehouse porcelain works in London.

In November and December 1750 Lund’s name was associated with an advertisement concerning the introduction into Bristol of a manufactory for producing imitation China Ware and the request for parents and guardians to place children over the age of fourteen with the business to learn the ‘Art of Pottery, as practised in Staffordshire’ and to be taught to draw and paint on the ware ‘either in the India or Roman taste’.

In July 1751 and January 1752 advertisements appeared giving notice of sales of ware made in imitation of foreign china or porcelain at the proprietors’ warehouses in Castle Green and next to the Bell Inn in Temple Street.

In February 1752 Richard Holdship of Worcester, a glover, purchased from Benjamin Lund a ‘mine of clay or soft rock called or known by the name of Kinance in the parish of Mullion, in the County of Cornwall, which earth or clay was used in making of certain earthen ware in imitation of China Ware commonly called Bristol Porcelain Ware’ and also from Benjamin Lund and William Miller ‘their stock, utensils and effects and the process of the said Bristol Manufactory’.  Advertisements in July and August 1752 notified the public that the proprietors of the manufactory in Bristol were now united with the Worcester Porcelain Company and were selling off their remaining stock at their warehouse in Castle Green.

In his bankruptcy hearing in February 1753 Benjamin Lund was described as ‘late of parish of Saint Philip & Jacob … dealer in copper and brass but now of the City of Worcester, china maker’ (PRO ASSI 45/25/1/89-90 Bankruptcy Order Book).

Wares produced