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Three Centuries of Ceramic Art in Bristol - The Story of Bristol Pottery and Porcelain


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Bristol is known for "Bristol Blue" glass, although little of it was made in the city!  Its potting tradition is less well known, but in the early 18th century it was second only to London in its production of decorative ware.

Production of delftware began at Brislington around 1652.  The first pottery in the city started in 1683, at Temple Backs.  In the early 18th century production spread to Limekiln Lane and Redcliff Back, and there were also a number of smaller potteries.  Millions of pieces of delftware were made in Bristol - production on an industrial scale.  Some of the best Bristol pieces are landscapes and those with the bianco-sopra-bianco border.  By 1777 only Temple Backs remained, as delftware was made obsolete by the more durable Staffordshire creamware.  Temple Backs changed to creamware production and later became known as Pountneys, due to ownership by J D Pountney (1813-1852).  In 1905 T B Johnston moved the business to the modern pottery at Fishponds, where it continued until 1969.

Much has been written about Bristol porcelain, but in reality it was the least successful of Bristol's potting traditions.  Benjamin Lund made soft-paste porcelain from 1749 to 1752, but the secret was taken over by Worcester, where it was developed into the finest of English porcelain.  William Cookworthy tried to make hard-paste porcelain at Plymouth in 1768.  He transferred the business to Bristol in 1770 and Richard Champion took over four years later.  Although Champion was able to make some fine wares, personal financial problems forced the factory to close in 1781.

Utilitarian wares were also made in Bristol.  Stoneware was produced from the late 17th century until 1940.  During the 19th century William Powell developed an improved stoneware glaze.  Powell and with another firm, Price, were major makers of stoneware bottles.  Clay pipes, for smoking tobacco, were made from at least 1617 until 1921.  There were also chimney pots, flower pots, sanitary wares, and items too numerous to mention!

Email me at the following address - web enquiry at  When using this as an address ignore the spaces and replace the word "at" with the appropriate symbol.  Emails to any other address may be rejected.  I may be able to indentify any pieces of Bristol made ceramics, but I shall need clear photos, including those of any maker's marks, plus the dimension of the item.  I cannot provide valuations.

Produced by Rod Dowling

Last updated  22nd January 2013