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18 September 2014
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History of a Pottery

By Dr Alan Crosby and Chris Howe
Building the pottery

Image of Canney Hill Pottery chest of drawers
An example of ornamental pottery from Canney Hill 
  • Going further afield to discover sources
  • Uncovering the turbulent life and times of the pottery's owner

My first task was to find out more about the pottery itself - who built it and when, and why at Canney Hill? The 1844 Tithe map and schedule for Coundon Township told me who had owned and occupied the land on which the Pottery was built, but it was the Manorial records which provided the vital information about the subsequent ownership of the land.

'A search of the 1851 census returns found Welsh lodging at the Bull's Head in Darlington ...'

I was then able to reconstruct the sequence of events leading up to the erection of the Pottery in the later 1840s, its acquisition by John Cooper and subsequent transfers of ownership into the early 20th century. The manorial records indicated that a man named John Welsh was the original purchaser of the land where the Pottery was built, and was probably its founder.

Image of Cliff Howe outside The Bull's Head in Darlington
Cliff Howe outside The Bull's Head in Darlington 
The records also told me that Welsh had moved to Grant County in the State of Wisconsin and this seemed like a good place to start my investigations. A search of the 1851 census returns found Welsh lodging at the Bull's Head in Darlington where he was described as a 'Proprietor of Land and Magistrate in the United States of America'; an important man who probably had some record of his life if I could only track it down.

'... the erection of a new pottery, in particular the ovens and kilns, required the skill and experience of a master potter ...'

The central library near to where Welsh had lived sent me a copy of his obituary from the local newspaper, and this valuable document gave me all the information I required to recreate Welsh's life as an entrepreneur, his journeys to Australia and Tasmania and his later emigration to America where he became a very successful mill owner.

Welsh's background makes it clear that he was an enterprising man, always on the lookout for ways of making money, and he probably saw an opportunity to make some at Canney Hill. He had no knowledge of pottery making, and the erection of a new pottery, in particular the ovens and kilns, required the skill and experience of a master potter, a man like John Cooper, so Welsh provided the money for the land and buildings, while Cooper provided the expertise. The story of the Canney Hill Pottery and the people connected with it was now becoming much clearer.

Published: 2005-03-03



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