Gladstone Pottery Museum Story
Early image of a view of Gladstone Works
Union Hotel on the right. Looking up Uttoxeter Road, Longton
Photo: source unknown 

Gladstone - its history before the 1970s

The origin of Gladstone Works dates back to the birth of the pottery industry. At the end of the 18th century, Longton was the next largest  pottery town after Burslem, and the future growth of Longton was made possible by the sale of the Longton Manor estate in the 1780s.

'The history of the Gladstone site is a wonderful example of the history and development of the pottery industry. The complex history of its owners and tenants, and the pottery they produced, is typical of the development of the pottery industry in Longton.'

Click here> for the full history of Gladstone, on the museum's own website 

200 words on the History of the Gladstone Site

By Rodney Hampson

Potteries were developed at Lane End (Longton) with the building of the Newcastle-Under-Lyme to Derby turnpike road in 1759. Thomas and Michael Shelley bought the Gladstone site by the turnpike, in 1774, and by 1787 they supplied cream-ware to "Wedgwood’s standard." They lived on the works, and at their deaths it was divided, leaving only one oven.

By 1840 there were three ovens, and many workshops - a Government Inspector criticising the factory as "dirty, small, dilapidated and unhealthy". In 1856 the present three-storey front was built, but continued to be used in part as a house, shops, and even a pub, The Vulcan Arms, until 1914.

Richard Hodson took over in 1869, followed by his son-in-law George Proctor in 1881, and the family, which took up the Gladstone name, installed a steam engine, grinding mills and enamel kilns, keeping control until 1939 when Thomas Poole bought the works, and ran it until 1960.

Gladstone made ļ¬gures, lustre-ware and, latterly, inexpensive china, the typical Longton product in a typical Longton potbank.

Gladstone Pottery Museum Story
Gladstone Pottery Museum Story - Hodson and Co. advert 1880
Thanks to Phil Rowley for the image

Gladstone Pottery Museum Story - Procter, Mayer & Woolley advert 1885

The Vulcan Arms, Uttoxeter Road, Longton. Just next door to Gladstone Works
Photo: source unknown Date: Unknown

Gladstone Pottery Museum, Uttoxeter Road, Longton
Photo: Rodney Hampson  Note The Vulcan Inn  Date: Early 1970s

The Vulcan Arms, Uttoxeter Road, Longton.
Photo: source unknown Date: Unknown

The Vulcan Arms - what's left after demolition
Became the staff car park for a short while
Photo: source unknown Date: 1974

Gladstone history in backstamps

A study of the backstamps or marks for the Gladstone works proves interesting. Gladstone has had eight owners since the first pottery factory was built on the site in about 1787.

George Proctor Co. occupied the site from 1892 to 1940. This company produced china and ‘porcelain' and their backstamp consisted of
G.P.& Co.

The 'L' for Longton was occasionally added. The trade name 'GLADSTONE CHINA' was used by the company from 1924 to 1940

From 1940 to 1952 Gladstone China (Longton) Ltd. were the owners. The mark such on wares from 1939 to 1961 incorporated a print of

In 1952 Gladstone China (Longton) Ltd. merged with Thomas Poole (Longton) Ltd., who had been producing ‘general ceramics' from 1880. Thomas Poole and Gladstone China were the last active owners of the Gladstone Works - still using the mark adopted in 1940.

Gladstone Backstamp used in 1953

The bottle ovens were last fired in March 1960 but the decorating shop and packing house were still used until May 1970 when when Thomas Poole and Gladstone China put the works up for sale

On 5th November 1971 Thomas Poole and Gladstone China (sometimes known as 'Royal Stafford China' - Thomas Poole had used this name from 1912) merged with the British Anchor Pottery Co.Ltd. who produced earthenware at their potbank by the railway bridge in Anchor Road, Longton. They were owned by the Galley Group of Wolverhampton.

Thus a new company was formed called Hostess Tableware Limited - the name being a name from a previous trade name of British Anchor.  Gladstone, Thomas Poole and British Anchor trade names were dropped.

[In 1973 Hostess Tableware merged with the Clough Group. Interestingly Alfred Clough, was the 'fireman' at the Last Bottle Oven Firing in 1978]

From The Friends of Gladstone Pottery Museum Newsletter October 1977

1930 Gladstone from the air

Gladstone Pottery Museum from the air in 1930
Thanks to Phil Rowley for finding it.

1948 Recollections of working at Gladstone 

Random notes made by Rodney Hampson from conversations with ‘Jack’ Bowen of Blurton, 16 March 1980. (Re-typed 3 December 2014 by Rodney Hampson from original manuscript.)

Mr Peter Poole was in charge. Employed 200 – china only closed down (during the Second World War) 1939-45 used for storage.

No. 1 oven built c.1950.  First firing ‘ran away’ although well soaked!
Two biscuit ovens bottom [of yard?] - two glost at top.
A 'fuss' to celebrate new decorating kiln c.1950 - replaced one kiln in yard by sliphouse (same place as now?).

Saggar maker same place (as now?). He started 1948 - went all electric soon after - ceased endless rope drive – steam heated stoves – flat makers, 3 towers –no mill in 1948 – old packer, Harold – young packer Stan Shaw, went into a crockery (shop)

Evans funeral undertakers in Salisbury. The Vulcan (pub) had a window at rear for beer.

No throwers in 1948 – turners, cup jolliers and handlers - saggar makers on corner.

Gladstone was a friendly place – Thursday was oven day.

Crown Derby sold to Allied English Potteries then old owner set up at Duffield with clay ware from Abbeydale – Lowes (Sutherland Road ?) made Cornish ware blue banded – treadle lathe  - pipe of blue slip (below Gladstone, across the road).

Gladstone made tea ware and a little dinner ware – no vases - all china, litho and light gilding, no heavy pattern gold.

1950 Gladstone's Christmas 'do'

Gladstone Works Christmas 'do'
Photo: source unknown Date: 1950s

1954 Screen shot from a film about the 'Five Towns'

Five Towns Extracts - here> on YouTube

Gladstone Pottery Museum from the air - outlined
Screen shot courtesy of Phil Rowley 

1955/56 Gladstone Pottery

Gladstone Pottery in the distance
Looking up Market Street, Longton
Photo: source unknown  Date: 1955

Gladstone flatware makers 1955-6
Photo courtesy of Phil Rowley, but who are these people?

Late 1960s / early 1970s Gladstone 

The rear of Gladstone Works c1970
Photo by Sid Meir, courtesy Ian Mood

The rear of Gladstone Works c1970
Photo by Sid Meir, courtesy Ian Mood

The rear of Gladstone Works. Rosslyn Works c1970
Photo by Sid Meir, courtesy Ian Mood

The rear of Gladstone Works c1970
Photo by Sid Meir, courtesy Ian Mood

Gladstone Works - the yard
Photo found by Phil Rowley
Date: Late 1960s/Early1970s
The Gladstone Works yard.  Notice the concrete, the weighbridge,  weighbridge cabin and the mirror above the tunnel, used by the fireman to check the emissions from the boiler house chimney without leaving the building.

1971 Gladstone China

Gladstone China
Photo taken from outside the works on land which is now the current car park
Photo: source unknown  Date: 1971

Gladstone China
Photo taken in the yard
Photo: source unknown  Date: 1971

1972 Gladstone China, pre museum

Gladstone China 1972 pre museum
Photo: source unknown  Date: unknown

Gladstone China pre museum Photo: source unknown  Date: 1970
Gladstone China pre museum
Photo: source unknown  Date: 1970

Gladstone China, pre museum
Photo: source unknown  Date: 1972