Pountneys Fishponds - Painters and Designers
William Moore Binns was appointed art of the new pottery in 1905, but only seems to have stayed for one or two years.
George Stewart was at Fishponds from the start, when the Wemyss patterns were purchased from Robert Heron & Son of Kirkcaldy. A vase which he decorated, bears his initials "GS" and the inscription "Manufactured from the first clay made at Fishponds April 1905". It is not known when he left the pottery. The 1911 census records a pottery painter called George Stewart boarding at 33 New Walls Road, Totterdown, the home of William Partridge, Emily Lane and another border called Walter Day. He was originally trained at Wedgwood and at Fishponds trained many of the other painters, including Charlie Smith and Cecil Garland. He continued painting the Wemyss ware underglaze comical cats, fruit, and the excellent pink roses; the roses were still being painted up to the time of the factory closure. Some of his pieces are signed "G S Bristol", however many of these signatures are facsimilies, suggesting that the actual painting was done by others. It is said that he painted cat designs by the cartoonist Louis Wain (sold as by the "Cat and Dog Pottery"). The Wain designs included a facsimile of Wain's signature and are now very collectable, however the designs seem to have little to do with Wain. Wemyss ware was also produced at Bovey Tracy from about 1930 to its closure in 1957. He also appears to have been responsible for the "Duck and Drake", "Cock and Hen" and "Fiscal Pottery" series, plus Charles Dickens characters and historical figures.
David Grinton (who was very short) joined Pountneys from Robert Heron c1905. A log book dated 1907 showed that he did piece-work at Fishponds, a procedure that would note have been allowed at Robert Heron as it lowered the standard of the pieces produced.
John Barker was born in Dunnington, York, on 12th November 1867, being first born of nine children to John and Mary Barker. In 1884 he was apprenticed into the York glass painting (stained glass) trade. During his apprenticeship he studied fine art at the York School of Art, which he continued after completing his trade in 1888. By this time he was a follower of the Arts and Crafts movement, and as early as 1889 he became a pottery artist at the Leeds Art Pottery, which was co-owned by Harold Leach. By 1893 he was working at Burmantofts, also in Leeds, and married Maud Leach, niece of Harold Leach. Sometime before 1895 they moved to Woodville, South Derbyshire, where John was employed by Henry Tooth at the Bretby Art Pottery until at least 1898. John may have been working at the Aller Vale and/or Watcombe potteries in Torquay as early as 1898, through to 1904, apart from a short period back in York during 1901. He may also have had been involved during the 1905 establishment of Charles Collard's Crown Dorset Art Pottery, in Poole. Crown Dorset produced puitan head and cottage desgins, similar to his during the period 1908-11 (Cashmore). The move to Pountney's most likely happened later in 1905. The 1908 trade directory records him at 6 Elmgrove Road, Fishponds, which is close to the pottery. It is likely he left Fishponds in that year, going back to Aller Vale/Watcombe before starting his own Tor Vale Art Pottery, also in Torquay, from 1910 to 1913. It is believed he then remained as Head Decorator at Watcombe until his departure for Australia in 1924.
At Pountney's John Barker appears to have been both a decorator and designer and may even have replaced William Moore Binns as Head Decorator. Most of his designs are marked with a printed "JB". He was responsible for the 'Bristol "Leaded Lights" Pottery', 'Bristol "Baronial" Pottery', 'Bristol "Landscape" Pottery' and the 'Bristol "Homestead" Pottery' ranges. The latter two are similar, and it is possible the more common "Landscape" replaced "Homestead". The "Leaded Lights" range was obviously influenced by his trade in "painted glass", with each piece segmented like a window, featuring a puitan style head and a motto. Similar designs were later produced at Tor Vale, including one with the head of a witch and the motto "May Fortune Smile on You".
Samuel Shufflebotham. Samuel Walter Shufflebotham was born at Norton Green, Leek, Staffordshire, on 26th April 1876. His father, also called Samuel, was a china and glass dealer. He probably came to Bristol about 1900, and on 24th November 1908 married Hilda Gwen Harding. She was a grocer's daughter, born at Queen's Terrace, Weston-Super-Mare, 1881. At the time of the marriage Samuel was residing at Arley Hill, Bristol, his occupation being given as "artist, oils"; his wife lived at Filton Road, Horfield, Bristol. The couple would have no children. He moved to the Llanelly Pottery in 1909, where he lived at 17 Mina Street (now Queen Victoria Road). He left the pottery in 1915 for war service, although he would have been too old for combat. He returned to the Bristol Pottery in 1919. He lived at City Road for 1919-25 and Ashgrove Road, Clifton, for 1925-29. He moved to Torquay by 1930, living at Upland's, St Luke's Park; moving to Bryanston, Bridge Road in 1931; and finally to Union Street, Torre in 1939, where he died on 30th April 1940, aged 64. His wife died in Bristol in 1955 aged 74. At Torquay he worked for one of the local potteries, before taking to cycling to the Bovey Tracey Pottery (owned by the Pountney's directories). He had a reputation as a heavy drinker.
At Bristol he was known as "Shuff" and painted the "Leaded Lights" series, designed by John Barker. At Llanelly he was known as Mr Shufflebotham, working separately from the other painters. He even had his own pottery body, with its creamy glaze. There he painted pink roses in the Wemyss style, some of which bear the initials S W S. He also painted puritan heads with mottos, but without the "Leaded Lights" look. Llanelly also produced items in the "Cock and Hen" and "Bristol Landscape" series style, but none appear to have been painted by Shufflebotham. He also may have had some responsibility for the Dutch figures produced by the pottery. It is not known what he painted at Torquay or Bovey Tracey, however during his time at the latter Wemyss style roses were produced. At times he also painted water colours, which may have supplemented his income.
Trade directories show a Henry Shufflebotham residing at 4 Causeway in 1910, and at 43 Dunkirk Road in 1911-3. Both addresses are close to the pottery, therefore could he be a relative of Samuel?
Thomas Trafford worked at Pountneys from the 1890s to the 1930s as an overglaze painter and print designer. He painted copies of Richard Champion's porcelain, some of which were copied from the Trapnell collection. and kingfishers.
R E L Williams was responsible for Korean style artwares painted in black and gold.
A W Brunt painted Chinese scenes from Ming Dynasty porcelain.
T Wallace and A Watson were also known painters.
Charlie Smith was at the pottery for about 50 years, being there at the closure in 1969. He is particularly associated with the "Blue Scroll" pattern, which he started painting in the 1930s. Some of his pieces are signed C A S.
Cecil Garland joined the company as a trainee, eventually rising to the position of Decorating Manager. He retired in 1962. Some of his pieces are signed C J Garland NRD.
Jack Price. The two pictures are of Jack aged about 30 (left) and aged about 49 (right). John Frederick Price (always known as Jack) was born in Burslem (now part of Stoke-on-Trent) on 20th December 1894, and went on to study at Burslem Art School. He became a designer at Cauldon Potteries* of Shelton, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. He contracted TB, which meant he was rejected when he tried to "join up" in 1914. In 1917 he married Nellie Hood and lived at Darlaston, later also in Hilderstone, the Stone in Staffordshire. In 1923 Jack and Nell visited New York, representing Cauldon. During the national strike of 1926 Jack supported the strikers and was active in politics. This led him to being dismissed by Cauldon and black-listed in the Potteries. Despite this he reamined friendly with Josiah Wedgwood (about 20 years his senior), who agreed to look after his daughter Ceris (then at Cambridge University) if anything happened to him (perhaps sensing his fatally progressing TB). He was unemployed for a time, but found freelance/consultancy work at Thynnes Tile Works in Hereford. The Thynne brothers welcomed Jack and he worked there for the rest of his life, ultimately becoming a director. Jack worked alternate weeks at Hereford (and later had a bedroom next to his office when symptoms of TB made it too difficult for him to stay at a hotel) and otherwise worked from home.
In 1933 he also became Art Director at Pountneys. He spent 3-4 days a month there, whilst working from home at other times, and had a significant impact on the company's artistic development. In 1938 Jack and Nell went to Russia on holiday. During 1941/2 Jack became national president of the SIA (society of Industrial Artists), succeeding Paul Nash. He had fiunded the North Staffs branch of the SIA, and was president of the North Staffs Labour Party. In 1943 he was assigned to the Ministry of Planning Design Committe for post-war building and construction. He died on 28th January 1943 whilst at Thynnes in Hereford, aged 49, leaving his wife and three daughters (Bronwen, Ceris, and Ffrangcon). Two days earlier he had been at Pountneys sister company in Bovey Tracy, Devon, where he written to one of his daughters.
* Cauldon Potteries were china and earthenware manufacturers from 1905 to 1962, and in 1962 the name was taken over by Pountneys. They followed an earlier business of Brown-Westhead, Moore & Co (1862-1904).
Pountneys had many talented female painters (originally called paintresses), such as Seraphima Hamblin and Frances Ashman, however none appear to have signed their work.
Much of the above research has been kindly supplied by John Carson. Mike Meechem has also helped. The section of John Barker is largely from Andrew Barker in Australia (his family holds the copyright on the picture of John Barker above). Information about Jack Price is from Neil McLellan. Much of the information about Samuel Shufflebotham is taken from Llanelly Pottery by Gareth Hughes and Robert Pugh, published by Llanelli Borough Ciunci in 1990. For true pictures of cats by Wain see 'Louis Wain' by Rodney Date (1991) I would also be glad to hear from anyone you has any knowledge of any of the painters who worked at Pountneys.