Pottery In Stoke-On-Trent
When Susan Williams-Ellis and her husband, Euan, decided to launch a pottery business in 1960, there was only really one place suitable for such an endeavour - Stoke-on-Trent!
Known affectionately around the globe as ‘The Potteries’, Stoke-on-Trent has a rich industrial heritage spanning 300 years, respectfully claiming the title of World Capital of Ceramics.
The production of pottery in Stoke-on-Trent dates back to at least the 17th century. The abundance of natural resources of clay and coal in the area rapidly grew the once small-scale industry, leading to hundreds of bottle kilns forming the Stoke-on-Trent skyline.
It was the innovation of Master Potters, such as our very own Josiah Spode, who spearheaded revolutionary changes in ceramic manufacturing in the area. This transformation led to a thriving factory-based industry that put Stoke-on-Trent at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution, supplying locally produced pottery to the world.
Thanks to the fashionable tea trade from the East Indies, the popularity of pottery grew, along with the number of factories in The Potteries. By the end of the 19th century, over 200 factories were operating in the area. The availability of coal, clay, and water from the River Trent meant that manufacturers had all they needed for a successful ceramics business.
Significantly for Susan and Euan, Gray's Pottery was one of the successful ceramic businesses established in Stoke-on-Trent. Specialising in hand-painted pottery decoration, Gray's became a supplier for Portmeirion Village providing colour-banded tableware in the 1920's, and later ceramic souvenirs designed by Susan, for the Village shop.
In 1960, Susan and Euan took over the ownership of Gray's Pottery and just one year later acquired another pottery firm in Stoke-on-Trent, enabling them to shape and design ceramics too. Portmeirion Potteries Ltd. was officially established in 1962, joining the many successful potteries in Stoke-on-Trent's ceramic history.
Today, pottery remains at the heart of Stoke-on-Trent, with many potteries, old and new, continuing the city’s legacy. Along with Portmeirion, many big names in ceramics still design and manufacture their products in Stoke-on-Trent, selling them to loyal customers and fans around the globe.
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