‘Why was Stoke-on-Trent the centre of the ceramics industry

Emily Waters asked LHL this month, ‘Why was Stoke-on-Trent the centre of the ceramics industry and not industrial Lancashire at the turn of the1900’s?’

The answer to this type of question can be extended in many different formats and on many different levels. I often think of the old proverbial counter question, ‘how long is a piece of string? To provide a basic answer the explanation lies in a combination of coinciding factors which include, people, products and location, location, location.

Essentially, just as Lancashire became the county of cotton, Stoke became the ‘Potteries’. Lancashire became a centre for the nascent cotton industry because the damp climate was better for spinning the yarn. As the cotton thread was not strong enough to use as warp, wool or linen or fustian had to be used. Lancashire was also beneficially an existing wool Centre. Later, inventors of the area (Kay,Hargreaves,Arkwright) and business investors of Lancashire combined with the crucial sufficient raw materials and manpower to provide an unprecedented environment where industrial cotton spinning and weaving could boom in the early industrial factories.

Likewise, Stoke-on-Trent has been shaped by the pottery industry for over 300 years and is affectionately known the world over as 'The Potteries'. This was because from small-scale beginnings in the mid seventeenth century, the abundance of clay, combined with access to coal, meant that the pottery industry grew and became rooted in the area.Staffordshire ware, lead-glazed earthenware and unglazed or salt-glazed stoneware made in Staffordshire, developed because of an abundance of local clays and coal which gave rise to a concentration of pottery factories that made Staffordshire one of the foremost pottery centres in Europe.

One could go on Emily but I think you get the gist.

Put kettle on mum! Peter John Fyles. July 2022.

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