- Reading maps to give a picture of past industry
- Finding out more about the demise of local potteries
During the project, I did a lot of work at the Durham County Record Office and local libraries. For example, I examined the 1850 Poor Law rate book for Coundon, the electoral rolls covering the period of the Pottery's existence, and the Valuation List for 1911.
'Maps and plans can often provide important confirmatory evidence ...'
These sources gave crucial information about the owners of the Pottery, how it was sub-let at a later phase in its life and the date of its closure, which I discovered was 1913. I also worked in the Billingham Family History Library of the Church of Latter Day Saints where I was lucky to be able to study census returns and parish records from outside County Durham.
I made contact with a couple from York who had written about other small country potteries in County Durham and learned that most of them had been short-lived enterprises, going under because the rapidly expanding rail network was bringing cheap pottery from Staffordshire.
Maps and plans can often provide important confirmatory evidence, especially when the project involves industrial history. Among those I looked at were tithe maps of the 1840s, a mid-18th century plan of coal mines in the Canney Hill area; a plan of a proposed extension to the Stockton and Darlington Railway, which showed more detail of the Pottery than the contemporary Ordnance Survey plan; and the three Ordnance Survey plans which covered the period of the Pottery's life.
Aerial photographs taken by the Royal Air Force in 1948 showed that the Pottery site had been roughly covered with topsoil.