The Potteries

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Bottle kilns at Longton
Hanley, from Fenton

The Potteries is a generic term for the industrial area of northern Staffordshire encompassing the six towns that now make up the City of Stoke-on-Trent:

The name may be used interchangeably with that of Stoke-on-Trent itself.

A wider usage applies the name of the Potteries to a wider area of Staffordshire encompassing the six towns of Stoke-on-Trent together with neighbouring Newcastle-under-Lyme and Kidsgrove, which have grown together as a large conurbation, though historically the six towns alone have borne the name.

History and pottery

This part of Staffordshire has been a centre for pottery since Roman times: a Roman tile factory has been unearthed in the area, making use of the fine clay soils. Ceramic production in the area took off in the 17th century due to the local availability of clay, salt, lead and coal.

In later times Cornish china clay was imported to make fine porcelain, and the relentlessly scientific development of the process in the Potteries by Wedgewood was one of the key points in the starting the Industrial Revolution. The Potteries soon became a centre of intense industrial endeavour. Hundreds of companies produced decorative or industrial ceramic items. The first industrial canal was built from the Potteries to the River Trent, financed by Wedgewood and other local potters, and with railway distribution of pottery products in the second half of the 19th century, there was a considerable increase in business. The Chartist 1842 General Strike was ignited by striking collieries in the Potteries and led to the 1842 Pottery Riots.

In the later 19th century it was proposed in Parliament that the six towns be formed into an administrative county to be known as "Staffordshire Potteries", but this was not included in the Local Government Act 1888. In 1910 the six towns were all joined together in a new "county borough", though it was not this time named "The Potteries" but "Stoke-on-Trent", after one of its constituent towns. In the event the six towns did grown together but with Hanley as their centre, not Stoke-upon-Trent as expected.

Potteries active in the 19th century and still active today include Aynsley China, Burleigh Pottery, Royal Doulton, Dudson, Heron Cross Pottery, Mintons, Moorcroft, Twyford, and of course Wedgwood.


The industry has declined, but remains part of the heritage of the six towns. Stoke City FC are nicknamed "the Potters".

The main shopping centre in Hanley is named The Potteries Shopping Centre.[1]

Staffordshire pottery figure, 1825

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