Castle Green, Castle Precincts.
Summary of operating dates and proprietors
In partnership with Joseph Fry, Joseph Harford, Thomas Frank II and 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.