The Staffordshire Potteries is the industrial area encompassing the six towns, Tunstall, Burslem, Hanley, Stoke, Fenton and Longton that now make up the city of Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire, England. North Staffordshire became a centre of ceramic production in the early 17th century, due to the local availability of clay, salt, lead and coal.
Hundreds of companies produced all kinds of pottery, from tablewares and decorative pieces to industrial items. The main pottery types of earthenware, stoneware and porcelain were all made in large quantities, and the Staffordshire industry was a major innovator in developing new varieties of ceramic bodies such as bone china and jasperware, as well as pioneering transfer printing and other glazing and decorating techniques. In general Staffordshire was strongest in the middle and low price ranges, though the finest and most expensive types of wares were also made.
By the late 18th century North Staffordshire was the largest producer of ceramics in Britain, despite significant centres elsewhere. Large export markets took Staffordshire pottery around the world, especially in the 19th century. Production had begun to decline in the late 19th century, as other countries developed their industries, and declined steeply after World War II. Some production continues in the area, but at a fraction of the levels at the peak of the industry.
The boom came after the discovery in 1720 by potter John Astbury of Shelton, that by adding heated and ground flint powder to the local reddish clay he could create a more palatable white or Creamware. The flint was sourced from either the South Coast of England or France, then shipped to the Port of Liverpool or to Shardlow on the River Trent. After shipping by pack horses to the watermills local to the potteries, or to commercial flint grinding mills in either the Churnet Valley or Moddershall Valley, it was sorted to remove flint that had reddish hues, then heated to 1,200 °C (2,190 °F) to create an easily ground product. A group involving James Brindley later patented a water based process that reduced the generation of fine siliceous dust, thereby reducing the risk to workers of suffering silicosis. In the early 1900s the process was converted to grinding bone, which had a similar effect.
- The Six Towns thepotteries.org, January 2008. Retrieved 24 July 2013. Archived here.
- Fleming, John & Hugh Honour. (1977) The Penguin Dictionary of Decorative Arts. London: Allen Lane, p. 752. ISBN 0713909412
- Dawson, 200-205
- Dawson, 200-201
- Staffordshire County Council: Moddershall Valley- Conservation Area, designation No.76, 1987
- Helsby, L.F.; Legge, D; Rushton, A.J. (1973). "Watermills of the Moddershall". Staffordshire Industrial Archaeology Society. Staffordshire Industrial Archaeology Society. No.4. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
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