Baptist Mills Pottery

Posted on: July 5th, 2016 by webfooted

(also known as White’s Pottery)
Millpond Street, St Philip and Jacob parish.

Summary of operating dates and proprietors

1840-1860 Joseph White II and James White I.
Joseph White I seems to have been associated with the business until his death in about 1854.
William White had also acquired an interest in the business by the time it changed hands in 1860.
1860-1866 Joseph Augustus White and James White II.
1866-1875 Joseph Augustus White.
1875-1890 Frederick James White, trading as J. & J. White.

The pottery closed.

From 1829 until 1840 Joseph White II and his son, James White I, had run the Redcross Street Pottery.  In 1840 that pottery was taken over by William White, the brother of Joseph White II, with Joseph White II and James White I moving to the newly established Baptist Mills Pottery.

It is not know when the White family first acquired land at Baptist Mills and started building the pottery.  However the pottery must have been in use by 1840 when it was first occupied by Joseph White II and James White I.

The White family continued to expand their property ownership in the area of Baptist Mills.  In June 1840 James White I, described as an earthenware manufacturer, purchased a plot of land at Baptist Mills, which adjoined property he already owned, together with seven houses called Henry Row. In September 1842 Joseph White II and James White I leased for 14 years at £60 a year ‘the mill formerly used as a grist mill and afterwards by the Bristol Brass and Copper Company, together with the waterwheel, machinery and the yard, stables and premises adjoining the mill stream, the mill tail, all houses and outhouses, buildings, sluices, floodgates, sewers, etc‘.  In 1844 James White I purchased land at Baptist Mills for £1,200 and in June 1846 he purchased further land and derelict buildings also formerly occupied by the Bristol Brass and Copper Company which adjoined Joseph White II’s land.

Joseph White I, the father of Joseph White II and the grandfather of James White I, purchased premises adjoining the mill at Baptist Mills in October 1845, which had previously been used as a skinner’s yard and parchment factory.  This suggests that he had a financial interest in the Baptist Mills Pottery which he probably retained until his death in about 1854. An advertisement of 1860 confirms that William White was also involved in the Baptist Mills Pottery.

In 1851 Joseph White II was recorded as a master potter, living at 2 Lower Ashley Road, and employing 95 people, while James White I was living at Frome Villa, Lower Ashley Road.

The last reference to Joseph White II and James White I being associated with the Baptist Mills Pottery was in the 1860 directory.  Between 1861 and 1869, but most probably in 1861, James White I emigrated to St John’s, New Brunswick, Canada, where, with his brother Frederick James White, he established the Courtney Bay Pottery at Crouchville.  By 1861 Joseph White II had retired to live near Barnstaple in Devon, later joining his sons at the Courtney Bay Pottery.  In 1862 Joseph White II, then of Waytown, near Barnstaple, mortgaged for £1,000 a property described partly as ‘all that land at Baptist Mills, and all that kiln and other buildings erected thereon now used as an earthenware pottery; all that land and warehouses erected thereon; and all that tenement commonly called the Porch House‘ occupied by James White II and Joseph Augustus White.

In 1860 the Baptist Mills Pottery had been taken over by Joseph Augustus White, the son of Joseph White II, and James White II, the son of James White I. In August 1860 this was confirmed in the following  newspaper advertisement: ‘To earthenware dealers, etc, Messrs J. & J. White (late J. J. & W. White) beg to thank their friends and the public generally for the liberal patronage bestowed upon them, and hope, by the superior manufacture of their goods and promptitude in the execution of all orders with which they may be favoured, to merit that large amount of patronage which has been awarded to the firm for upwards of half a century‘.

It seems likely that Joseph Augustus White was the partner directly involved in running the business.  In 1861 he was described as a master potter employing 37 men, 17 women and 15 boys, and living at Cornwallis Place, St Philip’s parish.  Ten years later he was again recorded as a master potter employing 32 men, 23 women and 12 boys, and living at Claremont Villa, Claremont Place, St Philip’s parish.

James White II died in November 1866 and the business was carried on by Joseph Augustus White alone until his death in November 1875.  In the same month, the pottery was flooded to a depth of 6 feet, and this was the first of a series of floods which eventually resulted in the closure of the pottery.

On Joseph Augustus White’s death his brother, Frederick James White, returned from Canada to run the Baptist Mills Pottery although the business continued to trade as J. & J. White.  During his proprietorship the pottery continued to be seriously flooded by the River Frome: for example, in November 1882 it flooded to a depth of 5 feet 6 inches and in November 1888 ‘at Messrs White’s pottery a mass of clay was washed away, and the works had to be stopped‘.  In 1889 it was reported that the Frome Culvert Committee had entered into an arrangement for the purchase of White’s Pottery at Baptist Mills, in connection with their scheme for preventing the flooding of the river.  In January 1890 Anne White, the widow of James White II, sold to the Mayor and Aldermen of Bristol: ‘all that mill … for many years known as the Baptist Mills and the yard and buildings thereto belonging … building with yard, furnace, pottery … two water wheels … and the three glaze mills belonging to the said mill and pottery, also the smiths shop and outbuildings …‘.

The Baptist Mills Pottery closed with its sale in January 1890 and this also ended the White family’s long association with pottery production in Bristol.  For a short time Frederick James White seems to have had an interest in a redware pottery in Fishponds, three miles north-east of Bristol, and in 1891 he was described as a potter living in Rodford near Westerleigh in Gloucestershire.  However in 1893 he left England to establish a pottery to produce fine stoneware in Denver, Colorado.

Wares produced

Egyptian black and Rockingham teapots, stone jugs, gold lustre ware and earthenwares.

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