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Bilston and Bradley Potteries

Frank Sharman

page 4

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The 1870s onwards: the coming of art pottery

Leaving the Prince of Potters and continuing the trawl through the trade directories:  Kelly’s Directory, 1876, Bradley commercial section, has:

Myatt John & Sons, potters

and no other reference to potters, either in Bradley or Bilston. 

Map Extract The Ordnance Survey map marked "surveyed 1882-85, published 1890" shows the Myatt Pottery on what was then still called Willenhall Road.  The name was later changed to Mount Pleasant (which here seems to be the name of the area).  It also shows the unidentified pottery which seems to be on Prouds Lane but this map shows a possible access next to the Theatre Royal which may have justified giving its address as Mount Pleasant.

There is now something of a gap in the directories but there are interesting entries in the "Official Catalogue of the Wolverhampton and Staffordshire Fine Arts and Industrial Exhibition 1884".  This large exhibition, which was held in the new Art Gallery and in temporary buildings erected on the market patch, attracted exhibitors from many parts of the country.  In the Industrial Section we find Wedgwood, Minton and other famous potteries.  We also find 

The Myatt Pottery Co., Bilston:  vases in various colours and patterns
Messrs James Meanley & Co., Mount Pleasant Pottery Works, Bilston:  salt glazed stoneware.

It seems, from this information and the OS map shown above, that Myatt moved from Bradley and set up the pottery in Mount Pleasant in or before 1875.  Whether or not they still had the works at Bradley is open to speculation. It seems odd that Meanley's address is given as Mount Pleasant and Myatt's is not.  Again one can but speculate that either they were sharing the premises or that one was in the works directly on Mount Pleasant and the other was in the works behind the Theatre Royal.

The directories start again at a time which seems to have significance in the history of potteries in Bilston and Bradley. 

In Hulley's Directory, 1889-90, under earthenware manufacturers, we have:

Myatt Pottery Co (fine art) Mount Pleasant
Turner, Alexander and Sons, manufacturers of rockingham tea pots, and every description of yellow and stoneware, Bradley Pottery.

This suggests that Myatts havesole use of the pottery in Mount Pleasant (perhaps keeping the Proud's Lane pottery) and have disposed of the Bradley pottery to Turner.  James Meanley is not heard of again. 

Kelly’s Directory of Staffordshire, 1892, p.40 has

Turner, Alexander and Son, earthenware and stoneware manufacturer
Myatt Pottery Co (John Myatt, manager) Mount Pleasant

Lawely's account (see above) fits in here, it having been published in 1893.  The best guess is that when he refers to the pottery as being relatively new he is referring to its being established sometime in or before 1885.  It may be that the Thorneycrofts owned that pottery or it may be that they acquired it from Meanley later and installed Myatt to run it; but Lawley's text hints at the Thorneycrofts taking up ownership of the pottery after Myatt had moved there.  

Earthenware Vase left: vase (5 inches high) in blue-green glazed earthenware.

right: vase (about 7 inches high) in very dark, iridescent, blue.   These pieces would also be attributable to the period 1890 to 1914.

both pieces by courtesy of Reg Aston

 

Vase

In any event, when Myatt moved to Mount Pleasant he seems to have set out in a new direction with his pottery.  Not only are the words "fine art" put into the directory entry but Lawley's account emphasises that "a superior class of articles" was made there (whilst, presumably, Turner at the Bradley Pottery continued with more utilitarian and prosaic items).  

Candlestick This candlestick is an odd mixture of a classical shape for the candle holder and a jokey monkey in a nightcap for the body. 

(courtesy of Reg Aston)

 

 

 

Trademark on Vase The mark on the base of this piece. 

Further the identified pieces of Myatt pottery include pieces which are of a very different design and which can certainly be seen as more of an attempt at well designed, modern, studio pieces than the others.  This would mean that such pieces date from around 1890 onwards, though it is possible that they go back to 1884 and fall under the rather prosaic description "vases in various colours and patterns".  There are hints in some of the vases of a Dresser influence.

This vase is typical of one of Myatt's styles at this period, with a classic body to which anthropomorphic handles have been added.

(by courtesy of Ruth of ebay dealers, acme_inc)

Vase

Vase This vase, from Frank Sharman's collection, is not marked but the colour of the glaze and the firing seem to be identical to marked Myatt pieces; and the vase shape and the style of decoration are also in line with Myatt pieces.  The decoration (which shows flowers and leaves on one side, neatly leading to a bird on a bough on the other side) is also consonant with Myatt.  The technique of the decoration is seen on other Myatt items in the Wolverhampton City Council's collection.

There can be little doubt in ascribing this vase to Myatt (a conclusion with which Henry Sandon, on inspecting the vase, agreed).  It can be taken as evidence that Myatt vases are not always marked.

This vase or cache pot, about 4.5 inches high, is in the honey glaze which Myatt seem to have favoured.  It is marked with the usual rectangular impressed mark.  It is also from Frank Sharman's collection.

Cache Pot

One of the cache pots has, very clearly incised on the base, the words "Myatt" and "Karl Iser".  Another cache pot is also incised with the word "Myatt" and with what may be "B. Iser".   One supposes that Karl Iser was working at the pottery in some capacity but nothing is known about him.  The name might be German (or even Romanian).  

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