Temple Gate Pottery

Posted on: September 19th, 2016 by webfooted

(known as Powell’s Pottery)
Temple Gate, Temple parish.

Summary of operating dates and proprietors

1830-1854 William Powell.
From 1816 to 1830 he was in partnership with Thomas Powell.
From 1831 to 1832 he was in partnership with John Powell.
From 1833 he ran the pottery alone.
1854-1906 William Augustus Frederick Powell and Septimus Powell, trading as William Powell & Sons.

The pottery closed and the business was amalgamated with Price, Sons & Co. in 1907 (see the St Thomas Street Pottery 2).

From 1816 to 1830 William Powell had run the St Thomas Street Pottery 1 in partnership with Thomas Powell, who was probably his brother.  In 1830 they closed that pottery and moved their business to new premises at Temple Gate where they had established a ‘brown stone pottery and Stourbridge glass warehouse’ and advertised that ‘William and Thomas Powell beg to inform their friends and the public, that they have removed their stoneware pottery from Thomas Street, to their premises at Temple Gate …’.  Thomas Powell left the partnership and in 1831 and 1832 the firm traded as William and John Powell, John being William’s brother. They were described as ‘brown stone potters, patentees and manufacturers of stone ware sugar moulds’.  Between 1831 and 1832 they exported stoneware, including bottles, to Limerick, Cork, Waterford, Belfast, Dublin, Newry, Guernsey, Jersey, New York, Madeira and Jamaica.

In 1833 William Powell was running the pottery alone and the directories described his business as ‘brown stone ware, glass bottle and patent sugar mould manufacturer, inventor and sole manufacturer of the improved stoneware which is glazed inside and out with a glaze warranted to resist acids, and will not absorb’.  Between 1833 and 1854 William Powell was exporting stoneware to Ireland, the Channel Islands, Madeira, Portugal, the West Indies, the United States of America, Canada, India and Australia.

William Powell seems to have run the business with a firm hand as in May 1839 he was charged with a violent assault on a young lad who worked for him who had been accused of stealing money.  He was ‘taken into the counting house, where Mr Powell was sitting. He denied the accusation whereupon Mr Powell snatched up a stick and struck him several times, inflicting a severe wound in his head, the effects of which kept him in bed for four days.  Mr Powell was fined 20s and costs’.

William died in March 1854 and in his will he specified that the pottery should be run by his sons, Septimus Powell as general manager and William Augustus Frederick Powell as superintendent of the stoneware pottery, the firm trading as William Powell and Sons.

In 1865 an insurance policy was taken out on the Temple Gate Pottery which described it as ‘Pottery buildings all communicating £1,750. Shed, warehouses, clay mills, crushing mill and steam engine and boiler house all communicating £50. Lodge £50. Stable £50. Basket shop £200. And on fire engine house and loft £50.  A policy taken out in the same year on the contents of the pottery mentions ‘stock, utensils and fixtures in the buildings all communicating used as a shed, warehouses, clay mills, crushing mill and steam engine and boiler house £100. The steam engine and the machinery, worked thereby in the last named buildings £400, stock and utensils in stable £60’.

In the census returns William A.F. Powell was described as a ‘glass manufacturer’, which was the other part of the family business, whereas Septimus Powell was described in 1861 as a stoneware manufacturer employing 50 men and 20 boys, in 1871 as a master potter, employing 40 men and 20 boys, and in 1881 as a stoneware potter employing 40 men, 14 girls and 3 boys.

In 1901 the following advertisement appeared: ‘William Powell and Sons. Improved-glazed spirit jars. Inventors and original manufacturers of the Bristol stoneware, spirit, treacle and vinegar jars (wicker & plain), drip pans, barrels, stoneware ale, porter and giner beer bottles. Improved water filters, jugs, pans, pickerling and preserve jars and an especial registered air tight pot. Wm. Powell and Sons have introduced a new and effective way of marking. Name and trade mark, etc., on jars in colour’.

William A.F. Powell died in February 1906 leaving effects valued at an enormous £168,842.14s.3d.  Following his death William Powell and Sons amalgamated with Price, Sons and Company in 1907, the firm becoming Price, Powell and Company.  The Temple Gate Pottery closed in 1906 and the new firm operated from Price’s premises at the St Thomas Street Pottery 2.

On 21 December 1907 a charity called ‘The Church Lands’ proposed the granting of a building lease on the pottery recently occupied by W. Powell and Sons, and described as ‘a piece of land containing 4,540 square yards … with buildings thereon, situate between Pile Street and Redcliff Mead Lane, at Temple Gate’.

Wares produced


Finds of waste pottery and kiln material

David Dawson reported the finding of two stoneware sugar moulds in 1978 during redevelopment of the site of the Temple Gate Pottery. The moulds were identical and were 520mm high and 215mm in diameter at the mouth.  They were made of the typical Bristol grey stoneware fabric, have a dark brown ferruginous salt glaze and had the clear impressed mark ‘W. & T. POWELL – PATENTEES – BRISTOL’.
(BRSMG accession no. Q1845).

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