Posted on: April 24th, 2018 by Reg Jackson

The Pottery was established in 1865 by John Ellis II on St Philip’s Marsh adjacent to the Feeder Canal. The Pottery was operating by the end of 1866 when the business was transferred from the Redcross Street Pottery to the new buildings on St Philip’s Marsh. John Ellis II left the company in 1869 and set up the Crown Pottery at St George.  The Bristol Victoria Pottery Company continued in production until it went into liquidation and was sold in 1872.  It was purchased by Pountney’s under the ownership of Halsted Sayer Cobden who were operating there by 1873.  It was then known simply as the Bristol Victoria Pottery.

See under Patrick Johnson and Thomas Bertram Johnson for its operation by Pountneys as the Bristol Victoria Pottery.

c1864 Prospectus for the sale of share capital in the Bristol Victoria Pottery Co. Ltd. Capital £20,000; £20 shares. Directors: George Cole, King Square, Bristol, merchant; Alexander M. Cowan, Westbourne Place, Clifton, gentleman; Edward Halsall, Kingsdown, gentleman; Abraham Levy, Temple Street, merchant; Richard Charles Ring (Messrs R.C. Ring & Co.), merchant; James Smith (James Smith & Sons), Castle Green, merchant; John Ellis, Managing Director (proprietor of the Redcross Street Pottery). This company has been formed for the purpose of purchasing of Mr John Ellis, the new erections, buildings and works now nearly completed, in St Philips Marsh, Bristol, called the ‘Victoria Pottery’ and of carrying on there the business of a Pottery in all its branches.  These works, which are freehold and unencumbered, are very extensive, and have been, in the opinion of good authorities, well planned and laid out for the development and carrying on of a large business; they are situated a short distance from the Great Western, Midland and Bristol and Exeter Railway Stations; they have good water accommodation, and immediately adjoining the intended line of the North Somerset Railway. The purchase of these works has been secured upon very advantageous terms, the vendor taking the whole of the purchase money in shares in the company, agreeing at the same time to transfer to the company, without any extra payment, the goodwill of the prosperous business for many years carried on by him in Redcross Street; to become the company’s Managing Director at the Victoria Works, and devote to the company’s interest his whole time and attention.  The situation of Bristol, with its excellent water and railway accommodation, is particularly conducive to the success of a company such as the one proposed. The Dorset, Devon and Cornwall clays are transmitted to Bristol at rates of carriage, showing a saving to the manufacturers of about 10 shillings per ton, or over 60 per cent, as against the potteries in Staffordshire, while a further saving is effected of fully 20 shillings per ton upon the carriage of manufactured earthenware and pottery supplied from Bristol.  These important advantages, added to the cheapness of the coal at Bristol, and the success which has attended the potteries in the neighbourhood in the hands of private individuals, and particularly the very favourable returns obtained by Mr Ellis, at his pottery in Redcross Street, justify the Directors in recommending the ‘Bristol Victoria Pottery Comp. Limited’ to the public, as a safe and highly remunerative investment for their money (BRO 20165/4).
1865 10 Aug. ‘Bristol Victoria Pottery Company Limited. Upwards of 600 of the 1,000 shares which form the capital of this company having already been applied for, notice is hereby given that the share list will be closed at twelve o’clock on Saturday, the 19 day of August’ (Bristol Times &Mirror).
1866 3 Mar. ‘Bristol Victoria Pottery Company (Limited). The first ordinary meeting of the shareholders of this company was held at the company’s offices, Royal Insurance Buildings, on Tuesday, Mr G. Cole in the chair.  The report stated that ‘your directors have taken the business, with stock and plant, of Mr J. Ellis, at Redcross Street, on terms they consider satisfactory, and the business of the company was commenced there on 8 December 1865. The pottery is in full operation and the business of the company will continue to be carried on there until the premises at St Philip’s Marsh are completed. The works at St Philip’s Marsh are progressing most satisfactorily, and it is expected that the mill and engine house will be completed by May next … So far as the prospects of the company were concerned, they had a good guarantee for its success in the fact of having a gentleman as managing director (Mr J. Ellis) who held one third of the capital in shares of the company’ (Western Daily Press).
1866 16 Aug. The second half yearly meeting of the proprietors of the Victoria Pottery Company (Limited) … Mr George Cole, chairman of the board of directors presiding. ‘In a previous report a hope was expressed that the mill and engine-house would be completed in May, which expectation has been fully realised as far as the building and machinery for the mill house are concerned; but the directors regret that a portion only of the steam engine has yet been delivered at the company’s works, though the contract distinctly specifies that it should be completed in May … The other buildings for the various departments of the trade are now nearly completed, and in a few weeks the business will be transferred from Redcross Street to St Philip’s Marsh’. A dividend of 6% per annum, free of income tax. Thanks were sent to Mr Ellis, the managing director (Western Daily Press).
1867 7 Aug. The half-yearly report of the Bristol Victoria Pottery Company: ‘stated that the revenue account showed a surplus of £503.3s.10d for the half year. This, considering that the building and machinery were still incomplete, and had consequently only been partially employed, was, the directors thought, entirely satisfactory, and justified their belief that when the factory was complete and in full working order, it would prove a very profitable undertaking … a dividend of 7 per cent per annum was recommended … The capital account showed the receipts to have been £10,916 and the expenditure for land and building and machinery, £12,777.0s.9d. … Thanks were conveyed to the managing director, Mr John Ellis … At present the company has as many orders as they can execute with the incomplete machinery’ (Western Daily Press).
1867 & 68 Half-yearly accounts survive for the Victoria Pottery.  That for June 1867 records ‘To stock earthenware £1,017.0s.0d; materials £682.19s.1d; dividend 7% £356.18s.6d’.  That for 1868 records ‘Purchases and incidentals £4,432.18s.0d; Director’s fees £84.0s.0d; wages salaries £3,943.4s.3d’ (BRO 20165/5).
1868 1 Sep. In the Alliance from Jersey for the Victoria Pottery Company, 1 barrel of stone (Western Daily Press).
1868 1 Sep. The sixth half-yearly meeting of the Bristol Victoria Pottery Company was held on 31 August: ‘The capital at the disposal of your directors has been, and still is, a matter of serious anxiety to them.  The original estimate of capital required by the company was £20,000, which it was proposed to raise by the issue of 1,000 shares at £20 each, calling up £12 and borrowing £8,000, a course almost universally adopted by companies formed at that time.  225 £12 shares, paid up, are held by Mr John Ellis, in payment for his property and interest in the business, on which he has since paid a call of £2 per share; 534 other shares have been issued, on which the full amount, £20, has been mostly paid. The total amount received on account of shares is £13,347; balance due to bankers £3,705; balance due to sundry creditors, about £1,700, while the sum paid for land and buildings, plant and machinery alone is £14,643; and the stock, materials, and good debts over £4,660 … To meet the inconvenience arising from the deficiency of capital before referred to, your directors propose to issue 6 per cent preference shares to the amount of the unissued ordinary share capital (viz 241) … The Chairman … expressed an opinion that the company was as safe as any concern could be wished to be, and he hoped the shares would be taken up … Mr Ellis (managing director) observed that, although the company had paid a dividend at the rate of six per cent, they had not yet got more than half their works employed.  They were paying interest on that which was a dead letter at present, but they would increase weekly and monthly in time to come, and they had every prospect before them of bettering their trade’ (Western Daily Press).
1869 23 Aug. ‘About midnight on Friday a fire broke out on the premises of the Victoria Pottery … It originated in what is known as the printing room, immediately over the bakery … The fire was confined to the room in which it originated, from the supposed over heating of a stove. The whole of the contents and the roof were entirely destroyed’ (Western Daily Press).
1869 28 Aug. ‘Victoria Pottery Company, Limited … Messrs Barnard, Thomas and Co. are instructed to offer by auction … in Lots of five shares each, a number of fully paid-up shares in this sound and prosperous undertaking.  These shares are the property of Mr John Ellis, the late managing director, are to be sold in consequence of differences between him and his co-directors, and thereby his severance from the Company, he having been compelled to pay up, within a limited time, a large amount in calls, expected to have remained in abeyance.  The average dividend has been 5½ per cent, besides writing off in two years the whole of the preliminary expenses and a large sum for possible depreciation’ (Bristol Mercury).
1869 18 Sep. ‘Victoria Pottery Company (Limited). £20 shares fully paid up. Messrs Barnard, Thomas and Co. are prepared to sell the few remaining shares, the property of the late managing director, Mr John Ellis, at a price which must make the same a most advantageous investment, and which, but for the circumstances necessitating their disposal, would not be entertained’ (Bristol Mercury).
1870 7 Jan. Part of the premises known as the saggar house was almost entirely destroyed by fire, from the overheating of a flue. The considerable loss would be covered by the Lancashire Fire Insurance Company (Western Daily Press).
1870 23 Aug. ‘In the Alliance from Jersey, 40 tons china stone, for the Victoria Pottery (Western Daily Press).
1870 26 Aug. The tenth half-yearly report of the company: ‘In laying the report and accounts for the past year before the shareholders, the directors are compelled to express their disappointment that their anxious efforts have not been more successful, and that an actual loss has accrued on the trade of the year.  They believe this may be attributed to the alterations in the manufacture consequent on changes in the management. The repairs and additions for the year have been very heavy. Very heavy repairs have been necessary by the sinking of the foundations in the boiler and engine house, causing great damage to the engine and machinery. New foundations have just been constructed under the boilers, which have been raised in such a manner that the directors hope this cause of evil will be arrested. Raising the boundary wall for the security of the premises, building new hardening kiln, and some minor additions, are properly chargeable to capital if any were available. The trade and the stock of earthenware and materials have increased during the year, and the directors find the capital at their command insufficient to carry on the business with its increased requirements, and, as additional capital must be provided, they propose to issue 141 of the unissued shares to the proprietors at £10 each, fully paid up, to be allotted in the proportion of one share to each five shares held. The additional £1,410 to be thus raised the directors think sufficient for the present want of the business, and will leave 100 shares still available for any future contingencies’ (Bristol Times & Mirror).
1870 10 Sep. ‘Between eleven and twelve o’clock on Tuesday night a fire broke out on the premises of the Victoria Pottery Company, St Philip’s Marsh, in what is known as the saggar and printing rooms, and before the flames could be extinguished a large amount of property was destroyed.  It is supposed that the fire was caused by the over-heating of the kilns which adjoin the workshops.  The loss is estimated at £200’ (Bristol Mercury).
1871 11 Mar. ‘Imports. In the Hedley from Antwerp. Victoria Pottery Company, 5 cks [casks] pottery’ (Bristol Mercury).
1871 5 Aug. ‘George Powell and George Smith were charged with stealing two hundred weight and a half of coal, the property of the Kingswood Coal and Iron Company (Limited).  On Monday the prisoners were employed to haul two loads of coal from the Deep Pit, St George’s to the Victoria Pottery, St Philip’s Marsh.  After they had left the Pottery, P.S. Bird saw them place a sack containing coal in one of the carts, and the officer followed them as far as Pile Marsh where he stopped them’ (Bristol Mercury).
1872 3 Feb. ‘Imports. In the Calypso from Antwerp. Victoria Pottery Co. 1 case 1 ck [cask] earthen jars’ (Bristol Mercury).
1872 4 May. ‘In Chancery. In the matter of the Companies Acts 1865 and 1867. In the matter of the Bristol Victoria Pottery Company (Limited). To be sold by private contract, all that very valuable pottery works and premises, called or known as the Bristol Victoria Pottery Company, situate in St Philip’s Marsh … together with the stock-in-trade, machinery and fixtures belonging thereto. The works, which are freehold, are situated immediately opposite the Feeder, having a water frontage of over 200 feet, and cover an area of about two acres.  They are built in a most substantial manner, and the offices and rooms are exceedingly commodious and well designed. The stock-in-trade consists of printed, sponged and cream coloured earthenwares. The machinery consists of horizontal steam engine, with cylinder 27 inch diameter, stroke 4 feet 6 inches; two Cornish boilers, 20 feet long, 7 feet diameter, with domes, furnace doors, and frames, double safety valve, etc; throwing wheels, turning lathes, squeezing press and dies, jiggers and benches, stoves and piping, three jollys, steam lathe, crab winch, flint and stone mills, two patent clay presses, with all necessary fittings, etc.; and there are capital kilns on the property. The works are in the fullest and most complete working order, and afford an opportunity rarely to be met with. They have, besides, an extra advantage in adaptation to uses of other business where space is of importance’ (Bristol Mercury).
1872 27 Jul. ‘In Chancery, in the Matter of the Bristol Victoria Pottery Company (Limited), to be sold by public auction on Wednesday 7 August … All the exceedingly valuable freehold works and premises, covering an area of over two acres, lately called or known as and belonging to The Bristol Victoria Pottery Company (Limited) … together with all the first class and highly finished machinery and fixtures belonging thereto …’ (Bristol Mercury).
1872 19 Aug. ‘In Chancery, in the Matter of the Bristol Victoria Pottery Company Limited … to sell by public auction on Monday the 4 day of November 1872 and following days, the whole of the stock-in-trade now lying in the warehouses of the pottery … consisting of pheasant soup tureens, vegetable dishes, gravy dishes, salad bowls, plates, dishes, and bakers; willow soup tureens, sauce tureens, gravy dishes, vegetable dishes, dishes and bakers, mocha and printed measure jugs, cream coloured dishes and bakers, cane jugs and spittoons, white and cream coloured jugs, brown top mugs and jugs, printed wash bowls, ewers, chambers, brush trays, soaps and sponge trays, of various patterns; printed soup tureens, sauce tureens, vegetable dishes, butter boats, dishes, bakers, gravy dishes and plates of various patterns; toy cans and jugs, dipped, sponged and printed jugs; cream coloured stool pans and bed pans, printed and sponged tea and breakfast cups, milk pans, printed bowls and mugs, sponged and cream coloured wash bowls’ (Bristol Mercury).
1872 5 Oct. ‘In Chancery, in the matter of the Bristol Victoria Pottery Company, Limited. To be sold by tender, all the valuable freehold pottery works and premises … together with the splendid machinery, and the stock-in-trade, fixtures and trade utensils. The stock-in-trade, consisting of printed, sponged and cream coloured earthenware, valued at about £1800, must be tendered for as one lot.  The machinery … may be tendered for either together or separately; as also may be the trade utensils, fixtures and works generally’ (Bristol Mercury).
1873 8 Mar. ‘Bristol Victoria Pottery Co. A meeting of the contributories of this company was held yesterday at the office of the liquidator … for the purpose of declaring a dividend. It was resolved that a dividend of 20s in the pound should be paid to all creditors who had proved their debts, and the accounts of liquidators were passed’ (Bristol Mercury).

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