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Thread: J H Weatherby's Falcon Works Pottery, Stoke-on-Trent - July 09

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2009

    Default J H Weatherby's Falcon Works Pottery, Stoke-on-Trent - July 09

    This was a last minute, spur of the moment explore. I was alerted to a show happening that night in Stoke, so a little internet research later and I was on the train to kill a couple of hours before the gig.

    J H Weatherby's pottery works was the target of the afternoon, and with my multimap directions in hand I found my way across the city and had a nosey.

    The site isn't in too good a state, but there's so much machinery, and unfinished pottery around it's actually awe inspiring.

    One of the last remaining family-owned pottery firms is to close after more than a century.
    J H Weatherby and Sons in Hanley is currently being run down and is will soon cease trading after 109 years.

    Its chairman, Christopher Weatherby, the great-great grandson of company founder John Henry Weatherby, today blamed cut-throat competition in the hotelware business for the firm's decline.
    At its height the company employed 200, but the figure was down to 50 at the turn of the year and now stands at 10.

    Mr Weatherby said: ‘‘We have decided to cease trading and are in the process of finishing off stock and things like that.
    ‘‘Basically we've decided to close down before someone else forced us to – while we are solvent rather than insolvent.
    ‘‘It's really upsetting. One of the main reasons is for the employees who work here.
    ‘‘We have had two or three generations of people working here and one of the things I've found warming is their reaction to this.
    ‘‘They have been very sympathetic and understanding. Everyone who works here has been very happy here.''

    The company was founded in Tunstall in 1891 and moved to Hanley the following year. It first made domestic ware such as basins and ewers, later moving into tableware and giftware. The firm also entered the market for hotelware – leading ultimately to its downfall.

    Mr Weatherby pointed to tough competition from home and abroad for the company's current problems.
    These included pressure on prices owing to ‘‘block production'' and the concentration of the business in relatively few hands.

    The 59-year-old added: ‘‘The hotel part of it was more fragmented. That has been changing and it's relying on more standard patterns.''

    Mr Weatherby admitted the firm had even considered importing cheaper products from abroad, but was deterred because of the high volumes needed to make the operation profitable.
    This route was controversially followed by another failed family firm, James Sadler and Sons.
    Although the Burslem-based family firm went under earlier this year with the loss of 140 jobs, James Sadler Imports Limited continues to trade.

    Mr Weatherby also partly blamed a planning issue dating back to the early 1970s, which ‘‘blighted'' the family firm and restricted investment in it.
    The front of the Falcon Works building on Old Town Road.

    The central courtyard, with the bottle kiln in the middle.

    The outer chamber of the bottle kiln.

    In the main chamber of the bottle kiln.

    One of many modern kilns sitting there untouched, most still full of pottery.

    Unfortunately because I was running out of time and light I skipped the offices at the front of the building. :( But I intend on going back to Stoke and spending a good full day checking out that and a few other sites of interest.

  3. #2
    Join Date
    January 2007
    East Devon's Jurassic Park!


    Fantastic find, adders. Some great stuff left lying around. Love the bottle kiln. :)
    "...If we lose our spiritual bond with the land they'll be nothing left of us as a nation..." Phil Rickman.

    I can't read and I can't write, but that don't really matter,
    I come from the west country and I can drive a tractor.

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  4. #3
    Join Date
    January 2008


    Dude, if you go back, I'd love to see it!! Looks utterly gorgeous!

  5. Thanks given by: uktogster

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