Fishponds (1905-1972)

A New Pottery

Domestic Wares

Painters and Designers

The Move To Cornwall


1950s Floor Plan



The picture of the pottery, on the left, has considerable artistic licence!  The railway shown was actually in a cutting and the layout does not agree with surviving building plans.  The address is given in the 1924 edition of Kelly's directory as 18 Lodge Causeway, Fishponds.  It was the most modern pottery in Europe at the time.  Production was in a single-story building, raw materials entering one end and finished products leaving the other, unlike the multi-story sites on older potteries.  Johnston died in 1938, and his son Patrick with Alick Newsom and Arthur Adams became joint managing directors.  Patrick Johnston was also managing directory of the Bovey Tracy company.  W G Cottrell replaced Adams in 1950.  1938 was also to see the introduction of the first continuously fired tunnel kiln (only the second in Britain), and the last of the coal fired bottle ovens was replaced in 1957.  At its peak the workforce was 700.

Christopher Clifford joined the board late in 1961, becoming chairman and sole managing director in 1963.  The Royal Cauldon name was purchased in 1962.  Despite the new kilns and other machinery the pottery had not had the investment of some of its competitors, and at this time the number of British tableware manufacturers was reducing.  The 400 strong workforce was ageing.  Despite the fact that wages were higher than in Stoke-on-Trent, they were still low by Bristol standards, and younger workers could not be attracted.  In 1969 the business was in debt, so the factory was sold off, and the business moved to Pool in Cornwall.  This move did not work and bankruptcy followed by the end of 1971.  Following purchase, by new owners, Pool closed in 1977.  On the closure of Fishponds the copper plates and the pattern books were destroyed, ending over 300 years of Bristol decorative pottery.  The factory site is now the Lodge Causeway Trading Estate and the railway that ran alongside it has now gone.

The Fishponds factory produced white ceramic tiles (until the Second World War), sanitary wares, domestic wares, and durable hotel wares (under the trade name Vitrite).  During the 1950s hotel ware accounted for about two thirds of the factory's production.

A letter of 1912 from T B Johnston to Walter Long MP (held in the Wiltshire Record Office) reveals that Johnston stood as a candidate for the Conservative party for Bristol East in the 1906 election.  It also shows that he was opposed to free trade and had a naive view of economics.  The letter heading gives a London showroom address of 9 Charterhouse Street, Holborn Circus; the representative was Mr J J Adams.