Posted 8 years ago
The art of pot making in and around Chesterfield has been proven since Roman times due to the fact that there is an abundant supply of clay, coal and water in the vicinity. The clay in fact runs in bands along with the coal seams and this led to the production of a small scale domestic market of pottery for everyday use.
By the 1700's the Germans were exporting many hard, impervious glazed drinking vessels into England produced by a secret process. When the secret was revealed to local potters it led to the production of salt-glazed pottery in the area. The secret was for salt to be thrown into the kiln during the firing process to give it a brown hard glaze which could be produced by having only one firing of the pot. With the previously mentioned supply of clay for potting, water for mixing and coal for firing the kiln the process was made complete by the salt which was transported over the Pennines by pack horse from Cheshire to Chesterfield. (hence Saltersgate or Saltergate, the main pack horse salt route into Chesterfield).
With the later improvements in transportation, Turnpike roads (mid 18th Century), Canal 1770's, and the Railway 1840's, Chesterfield was able to export many of the pots both Nationally and Internationally culminating with Pearsons Pottery being the largest British manufacturer of stoneware between the wars. The local potters had put serious weight behind the plans to build the Chesterfield canal. Pearsons are listed as having mines of both clay and coal during the 19th. & 20th. Century.
Many if not all of the resources required in the production process were mined on the site of the potteries and the Brown ware pottery or Chesterfield ware and Bristol Stone ware were produced at Brampton, Newbold and Whittington and went on to supply other manufacturers with empty vessels to be filled in their factories. There were many uses for this pottery in every day life from stone jam and preserve jars to bed warming pans and chamber pots. An offshoot of the potters art was the production of the many clay pipes which were smoked by both men and women during the 19th. Century and before.
There were several potteries in the vicinity of Chesterfield:
Alma. Barker. Brunswick. Brushes. Inkerman. London. Oldfield. Pearsons. Walton. Welshpool and Payne. Wheatbridge. Whittington. There were of course many others.
After the first half of the 20th. Century there were few of the potteries left mainly due to the invention of new materials and processes and the scarcity of raw materials on site. The potteries had been built on the reserves of clay and by now these were nearing exhaustion. A new lease of life was given during the Second World War when the local potters were given many contracts from the armed forces but after the war the last of the potteries suffered a steady decline even after diversifying products materials and processes, ending in closure of all of the potteries by the 1980's.