Redcross Street Pottery

Posted on: August 9th, 2016 by webfooted

Rich’s Buildings, Redcross Street, St Philip and Jacob parish.

Summary of operating dates and proprietors

c1823-1829 Possibly Joseph White I.
1829-1839 Joseph White II and James White I, trading as J. & J. White, possibly in partnership with Joseph White I.
1840 White & Doubting.
1840-1850 William White.
1852 The pottery was vacant.
1853-1855 John Ellis II.
1856 only John Ellis II and probably James George Hawley, trading as Ellis, Hawley & Company.
1857-1865 John Ellis II.
1865-1866 Bristol Victoria Pottery Company Limited.
1869-1871 John Ellis II.

The pottery closed and John Ellis II moved to the Crown Pottery at St George.

It is not known when this pottery was established.  It seems to have been started by Joseph White I in about 1823 when he was recorded as paying rates on a pottery at 13 Rich’s Buildings, Redcross Street.  However the directories listed him as a tobacco pipe manufacturer with, from 1829 to 1845, china and glass warehouses at Rich’s Buildings, and it is possible that although Joseph White I owned the pottery, it was his son, also called Joseph, who was operating the pottery, perhaps even from as early as 1823.

Certainly from 1829 to 1839 the directories showed that the Redcross Street Pottery was being run by Joseph White II and James White I, trading as J. & J. White.  It is possible they were both Joseph White I’s sons, although we have no details of the birth of James White I. They were producing yellow wares and, later, black ware tea-pots.  It seems likely that Joseph White I retained a financial interest in the pottery as his will of May 1854 recorded that he still owned the ‘plant, utensils and implements used in the trade of potter which shall by in or upon the pottery in Redcross Street’.  The Port Books recorded the White family exporting earthenware to Dublin, Waterford, Cork, Jersey, Guernsey, Jamaica and Barbados from 1830 to 1838.

The directory for 1840 showed the Redcross Street Pottery as being run by White and Doubting, although the identity of Doubting is not known.

In 1840 Joseph White II and James White I started the Baptist Mills Pottery and the Redcross Street Pottery was being operated by William White, who was also a son of Joseph White I.  From 1841 to 1850 William White was described as a black and Rockingham tea-pot manufacturer and later as a stone jug, fire-clay chimneypot and tobacco pipe manufacturer.

In 1851 William White was living in New Jersey in America when his daughter Emma was born, so he had obviously given up the business by then.  In March 1851 the pottery was advertised to let ‘with immediate possession’ and was described as ‘that old established pottery, Redcross Street, carried on successfully for upwards of thirty years by Messrs Joseph White & Sons, the kilns and all the working utensils being in good condition; with dwelling house and good stabling on the premises; warehouses and workshops, plentiful supply of water, a mill, and every convenience … up to the present time there has been a good wholesale and retail Staffordshire ware and glass trade successfully carried on’.  Another advertisement in May 1851 is worded similarly although it mentions a horse mill and states that application should be made to ‘Joseph White, senior, Prospect Place, Baptist Mills’.  This again shows that Joseph White I still retained a financial interest in the pottery.

The pottery was noted as ‘void’ in a rate book of 1852 but by 1853 it had been taken over by John Ellis II. The directories listed John Ellis II at the Redcross Street Pottery from 1853 and stated that he was an Egyptian black and Rockingham tea-pot, stone jug and ware manufacturer.  In January 1857 the following advertisement appeared in the Bristol Mercury: ‘The best and cheapest house in Bristol for china, glass and earthenware, is Ellis & Company’s, manufacturers of stone and earthen ware, Redcross Street Pottery.  Wholesale and retail dealers in British and foreign china and glass.  Export orders promptly attended to.  Offices and ware rooms, 14 Bath Street’.

In 1856 there was a reference to a firm known as Ellis, Hawley and Company working in Redcross Street.  This indicates a partnership, though perhaps a brief one, between John Ellis II and James George Hawley in the Redcross Street Pottery.

In 1861 John Ellis was described as an earthenware manufacturer, employing 33 hands.

It is possible that John Ellis II was in partnership with Joseph Ellis, the latter apparently having paid rates on the pottery between 1853 and 1863.  However, as Joseph Ellis probably died in 1854 it is most likely that ‘Joseph’ may have been a mistake for ‘John’ in the rate books.

The pottery was advertised for sale in July 1863: ‘To potters. To be disposed of, with immediate possession, in full work, Redcross Street Pottery … Principals only treated with. Capital required, about £1,500 to £2,000. Satisfactory reasons will be given for the present occupier wishing to decline the business’.  John Ellis II established the Bristol Victoria Pottery Company Limited between 1864 and 1865 and constructed a new pottery at St Philip’s Marsh.  Despite this the Redcross Street Pottery was operated briefly in 1865 by the Bristol Victoria Pottery Company, the business being transferred to their new premises by the end of 1866.  When Ellis left the Bristol Victoria Pottery Company in 1869 he apparently resurrected the Redcross Street Pottery as it still seems to have been still operating when John Ellis II opened the Crown Pottery in December 1870.

However it then closed and was finally advertised for sale in April 1871: ‘To builders, manufacturers & others, about 8500 superficial feet of freehold land, Redcross Street … for sale by auction, the 8 day of May 1871. The following very valuable freehold property: All that messuage or dwelling-house, office, warehouses, kilns, furnaces, and other erections and buildings, and the two large cellars under part thereof, situate in Asher Lane, Redcross Street and until recently used as a pottery, and known as the Redcross Street Pottery.  The pottery contains in length, from Asher Lane to the River Froom, by which it is bounded to the northwest side, 170 feet or thereabouts, and has an average width throughout of 50 feet or thereabouts. The arching of the River Froom will give it a double frontage.  It forms a most eligible site for building either a manufactory, warehouse, or cottages, which latter are in great request in the neighbourhood, and always let well.  The bricks and stones at present in the kilns and other buildings are, it is considered, sufficient for the rough stone and brick work for the number of cottages which could be erected on the ground’.

The pottery was eventually demolished.

Wares produced

Earthenwares, yellow wares, black tea pots, Rockingham tea pots, chimney pots and stonewares, including stone jugs.

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