Winchcombe Pottery in Gloucestershire makes some of the finest Clay Art and most practical domestic pottery in the world.
Clay art has been produced here at one of the longest running craft potteries in the country, established in 1926 on the site of a pottery dating back to the early 1800's.
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Between 1800 and 1914, Greet Pottery or Becketts Pottery (as it was known then), produced a range of farmhouse ware for the surrounding area. After the end of the war the pottery did not reopen and was sold to a local farmer (Alfred Butler) in 1923.
In 1926 Michael Cardew (who had been training under Bernard Leach the last three years) rented the pottery buildings (including the bottle kiln) and with the help of two locals, Elijah Comfort (aged 63 and the chief thrower from before the closure) and Sydney Tustin (nearly 14 and and fit and willing) set about restarting the pottery.
Cardew’s ambition was to make pottery for everyday use and at a price that ordinary people could afford (in the seventeenth century English slipware tradition) and after a couple of years hard work and experimentation production had begun alongside Comfort’s farmhouse ware.
Using the clay on site and firing the pots in the bottle kiln the range and skills quickly developed and in 1935 Charlie Tustin joined the team followed in 1936 by Ray Finch.
Three years later Cardew left to set up Wenford Bridge leaving Finch to run Winchcombe Pottery and then there was the war. In 1946 Ray buys the business off Michael and with the help of Syd (who retired in 1978) and then Charlie (until 1954) got production going again.
From then on many people joined the team keeping the number to five or six at a time for varying lengths of time to help and learn the craft, a lot of them going on to become well known potters in their own right.
In 1952 first experiments with stoneware and in 1954 the last bottle kiln firing, slipware production continuing using electric kilns until 1964.
In 1974 the wood fired kiln was built to replace the oil fired kiln for stoneware production and has been used ever since.
The pottery may be used in conventional as well as microwave ovens and dishwashers which gives it a very up-to-date practicality to such traditional stoneware. The only restrictions are that they should not be used under grills or on hot-plates or naked flames.
The glazes are harder than steel and even good old elbow grease will not wear them away!
All of the beautifully fired Clay Art products from the pottery kiln are for sale in The Pottery Shop which is open all year.
Clay Art - Winchcombe Pottery
Broadway Rd, Winchcombe
Gloucestershire GL54 5NU
Tel: 01242 602462