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Temporary Exhibition 2015: A Community Skill: the Story of Burton-in-Lonsdale's Potteries: Panels

Below is a summary of the text of each of the display panels from the temporary exhibition "A Community Skill: the Story of Burton-in-Lonsdale's Potteries". A single PDF containing all panels is also available: pdf (3Mb) (all in one file);

Copyright in all text and illustrations on the following exhibition panels remains with the Museum of North Craven Life

A Community Skill: the Story of Burton-in-Lonsdale's Potteries
1: A Community Skill

The panel is available as PDF in the 2011 exhibition: 'Challenge and Change'

Photos included (for images please see pdf).

  1. Employees posing at Waterside Pottery with some of the many different sizes of storage jars and flagons
  2. Visitors from Lancashire on a trip to the village to buy products directly from the Burton potteries
  3. Jack Lee weaving a basket for a flagon at Waterside Pottery
  4. Large kneading bowls drying in the sun outside Bridge End pottery

A Community Skill: the Story of Burton-in-Lonsdale's Potteries
2: A Thriving Industry

The earliest potteries in Burton-in-Lonsdale were established in the mid 18th Century. They grew into a thriving industry. Overall, there were between 12 and 14 potteries based in the village, making a wide variety of pots in large quantities.

The first potters moved to Burton to avoid the competition they faced in Staffordshire, where their traditional skills were under threat from new factory methods. When employers like Josiah Wedgwood began to use moulds, skilled throwers had to look for work further afield.

The potteries soon became the main employers in Burton. The largest pottery, Waterside, had as many as 40 workers. The industry also caused the population of the village to grow. A new church was built in the late 19th Century to accommodate the growing congregation.

Burton potters made many products for commercial and domestic use such as storage jars, spirit bottles and bread crocks. These were sold locally and as far afield as Cumbria, the Isle of Man and Ireland. Some customers from Lancashire cotton towns made special trips to the village to buy pots.

Some pottery workers also supplemented their wages by selling ornamental and commemorative pots like money boxes and puzzle jugs. These were made in their spare time or whilst watching the kilns overnight.

Photos included (for images please see pdf).

  1. View of Barnawig Pottery with a suspension bridge that is now demolished
  2. 11 workers outside Waterside Pottery, pre 1900. The workers are demonstrating different stages in the potting process, including wanding and throwing
  3. View of Burton, circa 1870, looking up the hill towards the village. Potteries can be see on either side of the River Greta

A Community Skill: the Story of Burton-in-Lonsdale's Potteries
3: Making the Pots: Step by Step- 1

Preparing the Clay

  1. Mining the clay Burton's potters mined earthenware clay from Mill Hill on the south bank of the River Greta and got stoneware clay from seams up the river from Burton. The potters mined clay as shale. They were mining as much as 20 tons of clay a week before the First World War.
  2. Weathering the clay Waterside pottery left their clay to weather for a year or two. The winter frost helped to break down the clay.
  3. Blunging A steam powered blunger broke down the clay and mixed it with water. As the clay broke down into liquid, sand and stones sank to the bottom and could be removed. This process took place in spring. The potters would prepare enough clay for a year's work.
  4. Drying the clay The clay and water mixture, known as slip, dried out in large settling pans over summer. The pans were 30 feet square and 3 feet deep and held 100 tons of clay.
  5. Pugging A machine called a pugmill worked the clay to give it an even consistency and remove any air pockets.
  6. Wedging This was done by hand and improved the texture of the clay to make it easier for the thrower to work with. The wedger weighed out pieces of clay to pass onto the thrower. Different types of pots required different amounts of clay.

Photos included (for images please see pdf).

  1. A pottery worker bringing clay from the clay drift
  2. Liquid clay pouring into the settling pots
  3. A potter tipping the clay into the pugmill

A Community Skill: the Story of Burton-in-Lonsdale's Potteries
4: Making the Pots: Step by Step- 2

Pottery Production

  1. Throwing Throwers shaped clay into pots using the centrifugal force created by the turning of the potter's wheel. They also used their own body weight to help shape the pot. Throwers were the most skilled and respected workers. Local legend says that Henry Bateson could throw 17 gallon bottles in the hour before breakfast.
  2. Drying, turning, handling and stamping Once the pots were dry and hardened, turning removed the thrower's knuckle marks. Potters added handles and stamped the pots with the name of the company they were to be sold to.
  3. Glazing The Burton potters glazed their pots before firing. Waterside pottery mixed glazes in 80 gallon batches. For stoneware they used a mixture of flint, whiting, Cornish stone and clay to produce a shiny cream finish. Adding manganese made a brown glaze. A clear glaze using red lead and silica was applied to earthenware pots.
  4. Firing The pots were stacked in the kiln. Workers then bricked up the kiln and lit the firemouths. At Waterside, kilns held 1200 gallon bottles and each firing took 50-60 hours and used 12 tons of coal. Kilns needed round the clock attention. Firemen worked day and night, stoking the firemouths and keeping the temperature at 1280C.
  5. Unpacking and cooling Potters used small test pots at the top and bottom of the kiln to test whether firing was complete. They then unpacked the kilns and left the pots to cool.

Photos included (for images please see pdf).

  1. Throwers at work at a Burton Pottery
  2. Burton Potter, Charlie Armour, bricking up the kiln

A Community Skill: the Story of Burton-in-Lonsdale's Potteries
5: Making the Pots: Step by Step- 3

Distributing the Pots

  1. Wand weaving Potteries often employed wand weavers to case pots in baskets made from willow. This helped to protect them from breaking while they were being transported to the potteries' customers.
  2. Transportation The Burton potteries sold their wares in Lancashire, Cumbria and further afield as well as locally. Frank Bateson regularly visited Irish whiskey distilleries to sell his products. Workers took finished pots to Bentham railway station for loading onto trains. While they were there, they would collect coal from the station to take back to Burton.

Working Conditions

The potters in Burton worked in difficult conditions. Their jobs were often dangerous.

The atmosphere in the potteries was often very uncomfortable. When the kilns were firing, the whole pottery would be extremely hot and smoky. The kilns were unpacked whilst they were still very hot. Workers could only bear to be at the top of the kiln for a couple of minutes at a time. Kiln packers also breathed in large amounts of flint dust. This caused silicosis which could be fatal.

There were other hazards too. The materials used in glazes were often poisonous and handled without protection. Arthritis was common amongst throwers. Some workers did escape unscathed though. Richard Bateson worked in the potteries from the age of 13 and lived to be 98.

Photos included (for images please see pdf).

  1. 'Squire Taylor', a wand weaver, making baskets to protect the pots whilst in transit
  2. The carter with his pots before they were packed and transported to customers

A Community Skill: the Story of Burton-in-Lonsdale's Potteries
6: End of an Era

Burton-in-Lonsdale's potteries began to suffer financial difficulties during the First World War and the 1920s. Competition increased as pots from Staffordshire became more affordable and easier to get hold of, while demand for many Burton products declined. The final Burton pottery closed in 1944.

Modern industrial techniques made mass produced wares cheaper. The railways brought these pots to Burton and customers began to turn their backs on locally made products. People did less home brewing and baking and many of the Burton potteries' products were no longer household essentials. There were also new substitutes for earthenware and stoneware. Glass bottles were cheaper and more hygienic as it was easier to see how dirty they were.

The potteries tried to rescue their businesses by experimenting with new products. They introduced garden ware ranges and coloured glazes but it was not enough. Between the wars, traditional potteries all across the country were struggling and most had shut down by 1945. There were more than 100 earthenware potteries in England at the start of the 20th Century. By the end of the Second World War, fewer than 12 remained.

Photos included (for images please see pdf).

  1. Waterside Pottery after it had closed down. The road is strewn with pottery shards, which were waste from the kiln

A Community Skill: the Story of Burton-in-Lonsdale's Potteries
7: A Proud Legacy

The last Burton potter ceased trading in 1944. Today, the nearest working potteries are at Bentham and Ingleton. Burton-in-Lonsdale still celebrates its potting heritage today.

Richard Timperley Bateson had been a highly skilled thrower from the age of 17, working for his father and uncle at Waterside pottery. When Waterside closed in 1933, Bateson bought Bridge End pottery but struggled to make a living. In 1939, he leased back Waterside, renaming it Stockbridge. At Stockbridge, Bateson produced plant pots for Woolworth's. This project also proved unsuccessful and Stockbridge was forced to close. Pottery in Burton-in-Lonsdale had ended after 2 centuries.

Bateson went on to teach pottery in London and Ipswich before returning to Burton in the late 1970s. He passed on his extensive knowledge to the Cartledge family at their pottery in Bentham. Richard Bateson died in 1991, aged 98 but Lee Cartledge still runs the Bentham pottery today, ensuring that the Burton potteries' legacy survives.

The history of potting in Burton-in-Lonsdale has been kept alive since the last pottery closed. The Museum of North Craven Life previously exhibited Burton pots in 1977 and the University of Lancaster also celebrated the traditional local craft in a 1985 display. Burton is still proud of its potters today and Burton Heritage Group are hoping to develop a pottery trail.

Photos included (for images please see pdf).

  1. Richard Bateson, the last Burton potter, with some of his wares
  2. A previous exhibition of the Burton potttery collection in 1977

A Community Skill: the Story of Burton-in-Lonsdale's Potteries
8: Rose Pierce's Collection

Most of the pots on display here were collected by Rose Pierce, who lived in Burton for almost 40 years.

Rose arrived in the village as a district nurse in 1959 and took an immediate interest in the legacy of the potteries. At that time, there were still people in Burton who had been personally involved in the work. Rose listened attentively to their stories and became fascinated with the raw materials, the potting process, and the pots themselves.

Rose began to collect pots and made it a rule that she would only acquire items from within a 3-mile radius of Burton. She wanted to share her collection with other people so she held a number of exhibitions in the barn adjacent to her house.

Rose wanted to ensure a permanent home for the pots and for the related photographs and documents that she had also collected. She generously donated everything to the Museum of North Craven Life a number of years ago. Rose had been a founding member of the museum in 1977 and her pots are now one of our most highly-prized collections.

Photos included (for images please see pdf).

  1. Rose Pierce and Bill Waggett at the site of the former Waterside Pottery in 1960s
  2. An exhibition of Burton pottery in the barn at Rose Pierce's Donkin House, 1973. Left to right: Mr Humpage, Richard Bateson

A Community Skill: the Story of Burton-in-Lonsdale's Potteries
9: The Main Burton Potteries

Town End c. 1740-1920
Established by the Gibsons and later run by 4 generations of the Bateson family (Thomas, John, Thomas and Richard) between 1768 and 1855 when it was taken over by William Parker and his successors.

Potter's Arms c. 1750-1900
Records show the pottery was being run by William Bateson in 1788. His widow and sons, Thomas and Richard, took over after William's death, running the business until 1860. James Fothergill was at the pottery in 1861.

Baggaley's (also known as Bridge End) c.1750-1945
There is a record of this pottery from as early as 1750. In 1754 Thomas Lawson mortgaged the property. From the late 18th to mid 19th Century, 4 generations of the Baggaley family ran the pottery. Thomas Coates bought the pottery in 1889 and Richard Bateson ran it in 1930s.

Burton Bridge End (also known as Bradshaw's) 1770-1886
Originally built by Joseph Bradshaw from Staffordshire before passing to Robert and Joseph Bradshaw in 1812. Bought by John Bradshaw in 1840 and sold to Thomas Coates in 1886. Coates closed the pottery down shortly after and converted it cottages.

Waterside (formerly Blaeberry or Bleaberry, later Stockbridge) c.1840-1944
John Bateson of Townend Pottery built Blaeberry around 1840. His cousin, William, and his sons bought the pottery in 1869. William Bateson and Sons Ltd also ran Greta Bank pottery. Blaeberry was renamed Waterside when William died. Waterside closed in 1933 but was used by Richard Bateson in 1940s before finally shutting down in 1944.

Greta Bank (aka Barnawig) c.1850- ?
Founded by James Parker and then left to his widow and son in 1871. William Bateson bought the pottery in 1887 and was run by him and his sons until its closure.

Greta Pottery 1843-1918
Founded by William Bateson and taken over by James Kilburn in 1857. Greta was bought by Thomas Coates after Kilburn's death in 1879 and then sold to Robert Bateson in 1906. After Robert died, his brothers ran Greta until 1918 when the pottery ceased trading.

A Community Skill: the Story of Burton-in-Lonsdale's Potteries
10: A Family Business

The Burton potteries were usually family businesses.

Thomas Bateson set up Townend Pottery in 1740. The Bateson family continued to run potteries in Burton for nearly 200 years.

Several other Burton potteries were also run by multiple generations of the same family, although many businesses changed names and owners quite frequently.

Map of Burton in Lonsdale

In the late 1990s Henry Bateson produced a map of Burton c1836 based on his own knowledge of the village's history. Henry was the son of Richard Bateson, the last Burton potter. His map shows the various potteries and other key locations such as willow beds and where the potters dug the clay

Photos included (for images please see pdf).

  1. A small portion of the full Burton map


Temporary Exhibitions for other years may be found by clicking on the relevant links below:


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