JOHNSTON Thomas Bertram

Posted on: March 12th, 2018 by Reg Jackson

See the Potteries List section for the Crown Pottery, the Water Lane Pottery, the Bristol Victoria Pottery and the Fishponds Pottery.

Crown Pottery

The Pottery had previously been run by Arthur Ellis.

1886-1904 Thomas Bertram Johnston ran the Crown Pottery.

The Pottery was listed in the directories until 1904 when it closed.

(Note: it is possible that the Pottery had closed by 27 July 1901 when a J.H. Crawley stated that he intended to use the premises as a soap boiling manufactory (Western Daily Press).

Water Lane Pottery

He succeeded his uncle, Patrick Johnston.

1884-85 Thomas Bertram Johnston ran the Water Lane Pottery, trading as Pountney & Co.

The Pottery was sold in 1885 and production was concentrated at the Bristol Victoria Pottery in St Philip’s Marsh.

Bristol Victoria Pottery

He succeeded his uncle, Patrick Johnston.

1884-1905 Thomas Bertram Johnston ran the Bristol Victoria Pottery, trading as Pountney & Co.

Pottery production was transferred to the new factory at Fishponds in 1905.

Fishponds Pottery

1905-38 Thomas Bertram Johnston ran the Fishponds Pottery, trading as Pountney & Co.

Thomas Bertram Johnston died in 1938, leaving the firm in the hands of his son, Patrick Bertram Gwinnell Johnston, his nephew, Alexander Newsom, and Arthur Adams. On his retirement in 1950 Adams was replaced by William George Cottrell. Cottrell stepped down in 1961 and was replaced by Christopher Clifford who arranged the relocation of the firm from Fishponds to Pool in Cornwall in 1969.


Born c1865 in Norbiton, Kingston-upon-Thames, the nephew of Patrick Johnston (91C).

1881 Holmwood House, Kingston-upon-Thames (16), living with his uncle Patrick Johnston, solicitor (81C).
1884-on Pountney & Co., manufacturer of plain and ornamental earthenware, Bristol Pottery, Temple Back (MD).
1884 30 Oct. ‘Wanted, two or three respectable girls for the decorative department, at the Victoria Pottery, St Philip’s Marsh’ (Western Daily Press).
1885 4 Aug. ‘Sale of the extensive and important freehold property known as the Bristol Pottery … covering an area of about one and a half acres; together with a wharf, yard and premises nearly opposite, with valuable river frontage: the whole situate on Temple Backs. Comprising the extensive manufactory, with commodious show and ware rooms, counting houses, glost, biscuit, colour, fritt, enamel, slip, hardening and flint kilns; engine and mill house, spacious yards, workshops of various kinds, stable, gig house, cellars, stores, entrance passage to the yard and counting house, foreman’s dwelling house with warehouse adjoining and lofts over, in Water Lane; together with the steam engine, mill, machinery, fixtures, etc. These extensive premises have frontages to Water Lane of 69 feet and Temple Backs of 245 feet; the extreme depth from Temple Backs to Temple Churchyard being also 245 feet or thereabouts.  The property is subject to a yearly fee farm rent of £1.9s.2d; also to a payment or acknowledgement of 1s per annum for permission to build on the wall of the Temple Churchyard. Also the valuable leasehold wharf, yard, buildings and premises, with river frontage, situate nearly opposite the pottery, and most convenient for the reception and despatch of goods. These premises have a frontage on Temple Backs of 22 feet, extending in depth towards the river of 135 feet, and have a frontage there of 38 feet or thereabouts. The property is held for two terms of 99 years determinable on the deaths of two persons now aged respectively 64 and 38 years, or thereabouts, subject to the payment of an annual rent of £1.6s.8d. The pottery and wharf are within five minutes walk of the Goods Department of the Bristol Joint Railway Station, and present an unusually favourable opportunity to persons seeking capacious premises, for either continuing the pottery business or other manufacturing or warehousing purposes. The works have been in continuous operation, and are capable of further extension at moderate cost’ (Bristol Mercury).
1885 19 Aug. ‘For sale, old plaster moulds. Low prices per ton. Pountneys, Victoria Pottery’ (Bristol Mercury).
1886 24 Jul. ‘To parties requiring manufacturing premises or sites for factories. To be let or sold, either as a whole or in parts, and either in fee or on fee farm rents, the extensive premises known as The Bristol Pottery, Temple Backs, containing an area of 1a [acre] 1r [rod] 14p [perches]’ (Bristol Mercury).
1886 11 Sep. ‘To grocers and others. White butter slabs, cheap. Crown Potteries’ (Western Daily Press).
1886 3 Dec. ‘For sale, old plaster of paris moulds, cheap. Crown Pottery’ (Western Daily Press).
1887 13 Jul. ‘To contractors and others. The Bristol School Board are prepared to receive tenders for clearing the site of the proposed Day Industrial School and removal of kilns, stacks, building and materials of part of the late Bristol Pottery, Temple Backs’ (Western Daily Press).
1887 14 Jul. ‘For sale, old plaster paris moulds, 10s ton. Crown Pottery’ (Western Daily Press).
1887 15 Aug. For sale by auction: the machinery, plant and effects of the Bristol Pottery, Temple Backs (Western Daily Press).
1887 19 Sep. ‘An active, intelligent lad for the warehouse. Crown Pottery Co., St George’ (Western Daily Press).
1887 23 Sep. ‘For sale. Plaster paris moulds, cheap or small quantities. Crown Pottery, St George’s’ (Western Daily Press).
1888 18 May. ‘Old plaster of paris moulds, for sale, cheap; large or small quantities. Crown Pottery’ (Western Daily Press).
1888 9 Jul. ‘Earthenware. Wanted for glost warehouse, a woman who has had some experience. Crown Pottery’ (Western Daily Press).
1889 26 Jan. ‘Pottery. Wanted, experienced woman for glost sorting; also one for biscuit warehouse. Crown Pottery’ (Western Daily Press).
1889 13 Apr. ‘Crown Pottery. Wanted, for glost warehouse, a woman with some experience, who can do sorting; also a sponger and band and liner’ (Western Daily Press).
1889 16 Apr. ‘To hawkers and others. Old plaster moulds for hearth stoning, 1s cwt; cheaper by the ton. Crown Potttery’ (Western Daily Press).
1889 14 Jun. ‘Wanted, a dish and bowl maker. Crown Pottery’ (Western Daily Press).
1889 17 Jul. ‘Wanted, an earthenware turner. Crown Pottery’ (Western Daily Press).
1889 18 Oct. In the Express from Poole, 83 tons clay, for the Victoria Pottery Company (Western Daily Press).
1890 9 Apr. In the Gleaner from Poole, 140 tons of clay for the Victoria Pottery (Western Daily Press).
1890 22 Nov. ‘Plaster moulds for sale, cheap. Apply the manager, Crown Pottery’ (Western Daily Press).
1891 22 Jan. ‘Wanted, a few young girls for the printing department at the Victoria Pottery’ (Western Daily Press).
1891 16 Mar. ‘On Saturday evening, about half-past seven, a fire was discovered to have broken out on the premises of the Victoria Pottery Company … and it obtained so firm a hold during the few minutes which elapsed before the brigade … could arrive, that by the time the firemen commenced operations a large two storey building, 150 feet by 40 feet, situate behind the mill, warehouse and drying sheds, was entirely in flames … The structure where the outbreak was discovered lies behind the main block, and is joined to the engine house, forming a sort of right angle.  All the work required in the manufacture of pottery with the exception of the finishing process is carried on in this building, and the frames and moulds are chiefly of wood … The brigade and steam float did not leave until one a.m. by which time all that remained of the building were the four walls and a mass of blackened debris … About seventy people were employed in the building, and the fire would undoubtedly throw them out of employment, as all the valuable blocks, frames and moulds were totally destroyed. Only three months ago new and expensive machinery was fitted throughout that part of the pottery and all that was destroyed.  The pottery was insured in the Lancashire and Queen Fire Office’ (Bristol Mercury).
1891 Earthenware manufacturer, Crown Pottery, Plummers Hill, St George (26), living with Emily Denham (30), housemaid, George Ball (54), lodge keeper and Keysia Ball (51), house keeper (91C).
1891 16 Apr. In the Ann from Newquay, 117 tons of clay, for the Victoria Pottery (Western Daily Press).
1891 10 Apr. ‘Wanted, few respectable young girls as apprentices for painting and decorating upon porcelain. Manager, Crown Pottery’ (Western Daily Press).
1891 18 Sep. In the Via from Dieppe, 200 tons boulders and whiting, for the Victoria Pottery (Western Daily Press).
1891 13 Oct. ‘Wanted, two or three respectable lands, to be apprenticed to the art of pottery manufacture. Apply Manager, Victoria Pottery’ (Western Daily Press).
1891 30 Dec. ‘Wanted, three or four respectable girls, aged about 14 or 15 years, for the decorating department. Good wages. Apply Mr Ball, Victoria Pottery’ (Western Daily Press).
1892 2 Jan. ‘Wanted, three or four respectable girls, aged about 14 or 15 years, for the decorating department. Good wages. Apply Mr Ball, Victoria Pottery’ (Western Daily Press).
1892 1 Mar. In the Ann from Newquay, 120 tons clay, for the Victoria Pottery (Western Daily Press).
1892 13 Jun. For sale. Lot 5, all that piece of land … on Plummers Hill, and adjoining the road leading to the pottery (Western Daily Press).
1893 12 Jul. ‘Wanted, respectable lads as apprentices. Pountney & Co. Ltd., Victoria Potteries’ (Western Daily Press).
1893 20 Oct. In the Charlotte from Par, 100 tons china clay, for the Bristol Pottery Co. (Western Daily Press).
1894 14 Aug. ‘Wanted, good litho printer, for hand press, one who understands colours. Victoria Pottery’ (Western Daily Press).
1894 19 Sep. ‘Wanted, two respectable girls, about 16 years, for fancy department. Victoria Pottery’ (Western Daily Press).
1895 4 Jan. In the Beatrice from Poole, 100 tons of clay, for the Victoria Pottery (Western Daily Press).
1895 10 May. ‘Boy wanted for laying on the lithographic machine; one used to X register work. Victoria Pottery’ (Western Daily Press).
1895 14 Dec. ‘Wanted, a few respectable girls for decorating department; aged 14 or 15. Victoria Pottery’ (Western Daily Press).
1896 12 Feb. He married Dora Deas at Merton in Surrey (Ancestry website).
1896 19 Dec. ‘Wanted, a few young girls for litho work. Victoria Pottery’ (Western Daily Press).
1898 8 Nov. ‘Wanted, a lad used to laying-on litho machines. Pountney & Co. ltd., Victoria Pottery’ (Western Daily Press).
1899 26 Jan. ‘Wanted one or two apprentices to learn the making of pottery. No Premium required. Pountney & Co. Ltd., Victoria Pottery’ (Western Daily Press).
1899 9 Mar. ‘Wanted a first class lithographic transferer for special work; only first class hands need apply. Messrs Pountney & Co. Ltd., Victoria Pottery’ (Western Daily Press).
1901 Earthenware manufacturer, 33 Downleaze, Westbury-on-Trym (36), living with his wife Dora (30), born in Wimbledon, and his brother Charles (35) (01C).
1903 17 Jul. Somerset and District Electric Power Bill. Evidence of Alderman Pearson of Bristol: ‘Mr T. B. Johnston, director of the Victoria Pottery Works … said he also regarded the Corporation prices as too high.  There was a cable passing the door of their works but, in spite of that, they could not afford to take the Corporation supply.  It was absolutely out of the question.  Unless power could be supplied at something between ½d and ¾d, it would be of little use to him’ (Western Daily Press).
1904 10 Sep. ‘Wanted for Pountney’s New Pottery, Fishponds, experienced engine driver; one accustomed to dynamo and motor, in addition to steam, and who is capable of using the lathe and carrying out small repairs. Apply by letter to Pountney & Co. Ltd., St Philip’s Marsh’ (Western Daily Press).
1904 13 Dec. ‘To hauliers and others. Messrs Pountney & Co. Ltd., will be removing from St Philip’s Marsh to their New Pottery, Fishponds, early in January, and require estimates for removing their stock, which comprises about 1,000 tons of earthenware, etc. Full particulars on application to Victoria Pottery’ (Western Daily Press).
1911 Earthenware manufacturer, 1 Downs Park West, Westbury-on-Trym (46), living with his children Janet (6), born in Clifton and Betty and Patrick, both aged 4 and born in Westbury-on-Trym. He was married but his wife is not mentioned in the census (11C).
1924 9 Jan. Dora Janet Gwinnell Johnston, elder daughter of Mr T.B. Johnston, married Mr George Campbell Goldney Grey, lieutenant RGA, elder son of Sir Duncan Grey, at Weston-super-Mare on 8 Sep 1924 (Western Daily Press).
1926 12 May. ‘One of the unfortunate results of the General Strike is that many who are not primarily concerned in the dispute are finding themselves involved in the tangle owing to the disorganisation of the transport services.  The Bristol Potteries,,for instance, were quite prepared to carry on and did so as long as possible by adding to stock until the time came when the only thing to be done was to call a halt.  With the restriction of transport there was no outlet for the manufactured article and it was found necessary to close down.  Between 600 and 700 persons are thus thrown out of work through no fault of their own.  In the mean time the recreation ground has been opened and the Sports Committee has arranged a series of programmes for the enjoyment and well-being of the workpeople.  The Girls Club is also being extensively used’ (Western Daily Press).
1938 14 Feb. He died at 43 Canynge Road, Clifton. Probate was granted on 18 March to Patrick Gwinnell Johnston, a pottery research manager, Charles Patrick Johnston, a company director, and Alexander Shaw Newsom, an earthenware manufacturer. Effects were valued at £36,279.15s.1d (PRO National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966).
1938 15 Feb. ‘The death occurred yesterday of Mr T.B. Johnston, the head of Pountney and Co. Ltd., earthenware manufacturers, the Bristol Pottery, Fishponds.  For 50 years he has been director of this well-known firm, which has the reputation of producing some of the finest pottery in the country.  Mr Johnston was in his 72nd year, and died at his residence, 43 Canynge Road, Clifton. He was born at Norbiton in 1864, and was the eldest son of Thomas Gwinnell Johnston.  He was a direct descendant of Oliver Cromwell.  It was in 1882 that Mr Johnston joined his uncle Mr Patrick Johnston in carrying on the historic Bristol Pottery at Temple Back.  These old Temple Back works were sold in 1886 and the business removed to Victoria Pottery, St Philip’s Marsh.  It then developed most successfully and was converted into a limited company.  Mr Johnston had an idea of something still more progressive and in 1904 plans were completed for the removal of the business to Fishponds and there building potteries on new lines.  The result was a modern pottery works which effected considerable economies, and in particular greatly reduced the risk of breakage in manufacture.  This new pottery, which came into operation in 1906, was admitted to be the most advanced of its kind and visitors interested in the manufacture of pottery in various parts of the world came to inspect it.  It has maintained its reputation for producing some of the finest and most artistic pottery in the country.  Particularly interested in tariff reform and banking matters, Mr Johnston was recognised as an authority, and not only wrote on those subjects but frequently lectured and debated aspects on these questions.  He was a man of original views and of untiring energy, and his arguments were always interesting and supported by sound information.  His interest in such matters was so great that immediately following the war he sent at his own expense, a number of investigators to several European countries and to America to ascertain the true commercial and economic positions of those countries.  In his own particular industry Mr Johnston was responsible for bringing into being a scheme for closer co-operation between the employers and the employees.  Politically his interest in tariff reform was responsible for his entering upon a contest in Bristol East at the election of January 1906.  Here he opposed the Liberal member C.K. Hobhouse as a Liberal Unionist but he was unsuccessful.  Sir Charles Hobhouse gained a majority of 4,806.  In October 1923 Mr Johnston was elected president of the Dolphin Society, while for several years he was chairman of Bristol East Conservative Association.  He had been laid aside for some time by physical infirmity, but continued to take an active interest in public affairs.  A member of the Bristol Chamber of Commerce during a long period of years, Mr Johnston’s services were recognised by the council in October last, when he was unanimously elected an hon. vice-president of the Chamber.  Mr Johnston, through his firm, had served on the council since 1904.  He served one term from 1907 to 1910, as a representative of Redland on the Town Council.  As a young man he devoted much of his leisure to cricket and became one of the mainstays of the Clifton Club.  He became a member of the Gloucestershire County Club, and captained at least one team of Colts in annual trial matches.  The funeral will be private, with no mourning and no flowers’ (Western Daily Press).
1941 15 May. ‘The death is announced of Mrs Dora Johnston, widow of Mr Thomas Bertram Johnston, of Canynge Road, Clifton, who was chairman and managing director of the Bristol Potteries Ltd.  Mrs Johnston, who was 68, took a very keen interest in the firm, and when her husband was planning the present factory at Fishponds which was built in 1906, she assisted him in making a cardboard model, and spent many evenings planning the lay-out of what is probably the most up-to-date factory of its kind in the country.  Mrs Johnston is survived by a son – Mr P.B.C. Johnston, joint managing director of the firm – and two daughters, one of whom holds a high position in the V.A.D. [Voluntary Aid Detachment]. The other is married and is in Singapore’ (Western Daily Press).

Comments are closed.