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almost to every port in Europe,* and yielded profitable returns to those engaged in the trade.
Aaron Wedgwood, of Burslem, who died in 1743, at the age of 76, was successful in this line of business; and his sons, Thomas and John, carried it on and improved it, for about twenty years afterwards, when they retired with ample fortunes. These brothers erected the first brick-built manufactory roofed with tiles; and in the year 1750, built a handsome house in Burslem, called, from its superior size and elevation, "The Big House;" a name it still retains. About the same time, Enoch Booth, of Tunstall, commenced manufacturing an improved article, called Cream-coloured Ware, which was coated with a glaze of lead ore and ground-flint; and this description of goods also obtained great favour and circulation. A very material improvement in flat and pressed wares was soon afterwards introduced by Ralph Daniel, of Cobridge, who, having visited the Potteries in France, brought back with him a mould of cast gypsum, being the first of the kind known in the English Potteries, and which being readily multiplied, afforded great facilities for the making of modelled articles. Mr. Thomas Whieldon established a Potwork at Fenton Low, and brought forth some elegant varieties called agate, cauliflower, and melon wares, compounded of native and Devonshire clays and flint; and, within a period of less than forty years, acquired an independent fortune by his business; after retiring from which, he served the office of High Sheriff of Staffordshire in the year 1788. He erected a large mansion at Little Fenton, adjoining to the town of Stoke, called Fenton Hall, now verging fast to decay for lack of occupation and care; and which is, probably, destined to be soon removed, to make way for the Manchester and Birmingham Railway.
See p. 28.
Mr. William Littler, of Brownhills, near Burslem, whose father had carried on business there as a Potter, and left to his son a small landed estate, embarked in some expensive attempts to produce an article resembling oriental china; he commenced business about the year 1745, when he attained his majority, and a few years afterwards removed the seat of his manufacture to Longton Hall, where he prosecuted his experiments with very good success, as regarded the beauty and delicacy of his china, but with disastrous results to himself, for he soon sacrificed his patrimony in the speculation, and was obliged to abandon it. The specimens we have seen of Mr. Littler's china exhibit great lightness and beauty, and would certainly have won their way in after times. Mr. Littler had the merit of first making use of the fluid glaze which Mr. Enoch Booth afterwards improved upon.
Mr. Josiah Wedgwood commenced business in Burslem, in the year 1756, and first occupied a small house and Potwork, where the new Market-house now stands. He afterwards held a more extensive set of works, which, from his having erected a cupola, with a bell, was called the Bell Works, and in a very successful manner prosecuted the business, introducing numerous improvements in its manual and chemical details, as well as in the extent and variety of its productions. During the progress of making the Grand Trunk Canal, he purchased a considerable estate in Shelton, which it intersected, and erected on its banks a very extensive manufactory; also an elegant mansion near, for his own residence, and a great number of cottages for his workmen contiguous to the manufactory, to which new village he gave the classical name, " Etruria," and removed thither partly in 1769, and wholly in 1771. We think it incumbent upon us, to bestow more than ordinary notice upon the biography of a gentleman, to whose genius and enterprise the District is so greatly indebted; and shall, therefore, reserve that subject for the Chapter describing" Etruria," in the topographical part of our work.
The manufacture of China Ware, to any good purpose, was first begun by the firm of Hollins, Warburton, Daniel, & Co. of Shelton, about the year 1780, they having purchased from the ingenious Mr. Champion, of Bristol, author of a work, entitled, "Considerations on American Commerce," his interest in the Patent obtained by Mr. Cookworthy, Chemist, of Plymouth, for the making of Porcelain. This was a new era in the annals of our trade, the manufacture of Porcelain having since spread so extensively as to have acquired, at the present time, an equal share of attention with the more ordinary description of goods manufactured. The most successful China-manufacturer of his time was Mr. Josiah Spode, of Stoke, who acquired a very large fortune in business, and erected at Penkhull a noble mansion, called the Mount, about the year 1803, which now belongs to his grand-son, of the same name, a minor.
To speak of the living manufacturers, by whom the business of the District has been advanced and improved, or most successfully prosecuted, would necessarily lead us to greater lengths than we think it prudent to extend this portion of our work; and might also subject us to the charge of making invidious selections, and propitiating particular favour;-a charge, which, from a lively remembrance of the past, we are most desirous of avoiding for the future. We shall, therefore, reserve our notices of living characters, for the chapters containing our local descriptions; and proceed to general historical matters, relating to the Borough at large.
It may be right to retrace our footsteps a little, by adverting to the use of pulverized Flint-stone, in pottery ware; and to give some further particulars respecting that important combination.
In the first place, when Mr. Astbury tried his experiment, the flints, being calcined, were pounded in an iron mortar, until perfectly levigated; and being but sparingly used, this answered the demand for some time; but, when the use of Flint became more common, this tedious process
would no longer suffice, and the ingenious Brindley, (whose original occupation was that of a millwright), erected a windmill at Burslem, for the purpose of grinding the calcined flint in a dry state; and also adapted some neighbouring water-mills to the same purpose. It was not, we think, until about the time of Mr. Wedgwood settling at Etruria, that the practice commenced of grinding the flint mixed with water; for which suggestion it is said the Trade was indebted to an ingenious plumber and glazier, named Bedson. As flint became afterwards so largely in use, not only did Mr. Wedgwood erect a steam-mill for stamping and grinding it, but almost all the neighbouring flourmills, worked by water, were put in requisition to meet the increasing demand; and now several powerful watermills at a considerable distance, and many additional steam-mills in the neighbourhood, are required, for keeping up the necessary supply of flint, Cornish-stone, and other vitreous substances, which are compounded with the clays in the Porcelain and Earthenware Manufactures, or used as glazes to give them lustre.
We have described a primitive Potwork, such as commonly existed within a century past.* Now our Potworks exhibit a very altered character, and some of the larger manufactories present such an extensive, and imposing group, as may worthily employ the skilful-tracing hand, and the labours of graphic art. We hope, indeed, to be enabled, in the course of our work, to exhibit some of the most striking of them. A large "Workhouse Bank," (that being the provincial appellation), presents a quadrangle of lofty warehouses, and work-rooms, with intermediate ranges, dividing the space into several areas,—a cluster, or row, of towering hovels, tapering upwards like Egyptian Pyramids, or with embattled tops, realizing the picture of a large fortification; a lofty chimney resembling
* Page 46.
FLUCTUATIONS OF TRADE.
a Pharos, except that the one sent forth brilliant streams of light, and the other emits dense clouds of smoke. This stately assemblage of brick-built objects must be regarded as a striking picture, by the contemplative stranger, passing through the Borough of Stoke-upon-Trent.
The houses of the more opulent manufacturers, and professional gentlemen, as well as the new Churches, Chapels, and other Public Buildings, which have sprung up of late years, (Engravings of several of which will be supplied as accompaniments to our local descriptions), claim, equally with the manufactories, particular notice in a work which professes to contain a descriptive History of this District; but concerning these, we can only here make this passing and general remark.
That we may perform the part of faithful historians, we must not refrain from making a few observations, upon the reverses which have checked the career of the Pottery Trade; and in casting a retrospective glance over the course of events for thirty or forty years, the unwelcome fact is forced upon our notice, that, notwithstanding the great increase of the business, and the improvements, and trebled population to which it has given rise, the success of individuals who have embarked in it has been extremely hazardous, and their failure has been the result, in more than a majority of instances. We do not hesitate, indeed, to assert, that during the period we refer to, we have witnessed the ruin of a larger number of Potters than are now engaged in the trade. On the other hand, we have seen many individuals, who, from the condition of operatives, have by their industry, talents, and prudence, acquired deserved respectability, and even opulence; whilst others, who succeeded to established businesses, have by contrary courses gone the downward road: but generally, those who, without knowledge and experience, have embarked their money in what appeared a thriving trade, have felt the retrograde movement of Fortune's wheel. The fact seems to be, that a competent