Gladstone Pottery Museum Story
Early image of a view of Gladstone Works with lots of smoke!
Union hotel on the right. Looking up Uttoxeter Road, Longton. 


A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY - before the 1970s

From Stoke-on-Trent Museums website  here>

The origin of the pottery known as the Gladstone Works dates right back to the birth of the pottery industry as we know it today. 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, which allowed the Burslem potters, and others, to buy land at a time when there was a shortage of develop-able land in the Burslem area.


Among the purchasers of the Longton lands were the Shelleys, a local family who had become well known for their potting skills. By 1787 they had established a large and thriving manufacturing concern on a site to the south of Lane End, adjoining the recently turnpiked road to Uttoxeter. It is on part of this site that the Gladstone Pottery Museum now stands.

Here the Shelleys produced their own earthenware, and also decorated plates and dishes manufactured by Josiah Wedgwood at Etruria. Two of the family, Thomas and Michael, were to achieve considerable prestige as manufacturers; yet by 1789 their business had failed, and they were declared bankrupt and forced to sell their factory. The purchaser was William Ward and he paid £900 for the site.   more here>

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.

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 Just next door to Gladstone Works
Photo: source unknown Date: Unknown

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 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.the works were put 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.  The Gladstone, Thomas Poole and British Anchor trade names were dropped.

From The Friends of Gladstone Pottery Museum Newsletter October 1977  (needs verifying)

1930 Gladstone Pottery Museum from the air


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

1948 Recollections of working at the Gladstone Works 

Random notes made by Rodney Hampson from conversations with ‘Jack’ Bowen of Blurton
16 March 1980

Mr Peter Poole 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

Re-typed 3 December 2014 by Rodney Hampson from original pencilled manuscript

1950 Gladstone Pottery Christmas 'do'

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

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

Five Towns Extracts

Available 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?
Use the Contact Form at the bottom of this page to let me know

Late 1960s/early 1970s Gladstone Pottery

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 boilerhouse chimney without leaving the building.

Gladstone Works - the yard
Photo found by Phil Rowley  Date: Late 1960s/Early1970s

1971 Gladstone China, pre-museum

Gladstone China
Photo taken from outside the works on land which is now the current (2017) 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 premuseum
Photo: source unknown  Date: 1972