Potteries History in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire | Re-form
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Pottery has been made in North Staffordshire for at least 600 years. The industry was founded here on local clays and developed because there were large supplies of coal in the area suitable for firing pottery. Much of the early ware was unglazed, but some was dusted with powdered lead ore which when fired produced a rich yellowish glaze; other ware was salt-glazed.

During the 18th century a better quality, or whiter, ware was developed by the introduction of ball clay from Devon and the use of calcined flint, and by about 1770 cream-coloured pottery was being made from a body which contained the same materials as the earthenware body of today—ball clay, china clay, flint and Cornish stone—a body which, because of its high content of free silica, has caused so much ill- health to so many people. The disease now known as silicosis or pneumoconiosis was 100 years ago known as potter rot. Pneumoconiosis means fibrosis of the lungs due to silica dust, asbestos dust or other dust and includes the condition of the lungs known as dust reticulation. It is now the greatest single health hazard affecting potters.

Many people who have not visited the Potteries link the area with the Black Country; this, however, is separated from the Potteries by many miles of open country and the extensive Cannock Chase. They think of the Potteries as an area of bottle ovens and factory chimneys belching out black smoke day and night and the whole area constantly bathed in gloom and fog. Today the atmospheric pollution as judged by ordinary observation is probably no worse and no better than that of any other industrial area of a similar size.

The amount of smoke arising from pottery firing has been progressively reduced by the continuing replacement of the coal-firing bottle oven with electric or gas-fired intermittent and tunnel ovens. During the period of the survey, there were 572 coal-fired ovens or kilns still in use, but the industry estimates that at the present time, it is burning at least half a million tons of raw coal a year less than it was before the war, and over 1,500 bottle-ovens have been replaced by smokeless ovens and kilns.