Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1006441
Date first listed: 10-Jul-1973
Date of most recent amendment: 08-Dec-2016
Statutory Address: Milkwell Lane, Corbridge, Northumberland, NE45 5QF
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Statutory Address: Milkwell Lane, Corbridge, Northumberland, NE45 5QF
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference: NY9924865238
The standing, buried and earthwork remains of a post-medieval pottery originally known as Walker's Pottery. The remains include a cottage, two updraft or bottle kilns, part of a tramway, at least one circular downdraft kiln and chimney, two Newcastle horizontal kilns, drying rooms with under floor heating, a puddling pond, and one or more pugmills and stables with a walled yard.
Reasons for Designation
Walker's Pottery, of C19 and early C20 date is scheduled for the following principal reasons:
* Survival: a continuous series of standing structures, earthworks and below-ground deposits combine to produce a reasonably well-preserved rural pottery, which has multiple phases and includes the survival of three different forms of kiln;
* Potential: it retains significant evidence relating to the layout and operation of a small, C19 rural pottery in England, which will contribute to our knowledge of their social and economic context and our understanding of long-established industrial techniques;
* Period: a small-scale complex which characterises family-run rural potteries of the period, representing a response to increasing demand for cheap course earthenware and other goods;
* Diversity of features: taken together as a group, the importance of the standing, earthwork and buried remains of Walker's Pottery is enhanced as they illustrate the complete industrial process from transportation, through preparation, manufacture and removal of the finished product.
Wheel thrown pottery has been made in Britain since at least the Roman period and potteries were usually located in close proximity to a raw material source, primarily good quality clay, but also fuel for firing the kilns and water. During the Roman and medieval periods the industry was largely rural and regionally based. It was only in the C17 that the industry began to concentrate in fewer areas as new patterns of distribution and marketing began to take effect.
The later post-medieval pottery industry underwent major changes during the C18 to meet the needs of a growing market, particularly the new fashion for tea and coffee drinking which demanded high quality tablewares. However, alongside the fine tablewares which were produced in quantity for the middle and upper markets, there was an increasing demand for cheap, course earthenware among the new urban labouring classes in the C18 and C19. This was met by the establishment of a number of potteries, usually small, family concerns near the industrial centres, particularly in the coalfields and around London. The techniques they employed in c.1900 were very similar to those of the C17 or earlier; hence the components of a production site may bear a greater similarity to those from earlier periods than to those in use at contemporary pottery factories. From the mid-C19 onwards, industrial wares became cheaper and fell within the price range of most households; the decline in traditional home food production reduced the need for earthenware and few of the traditional rural potteries survived long into the C20. Potteries included a range of buildings in which raw materials were stored, processed, manufactured into pots, fired, decorated and glazed and then packed for transportation to market. A good controlled water supply was essential for many of the processes of manufacture.
Walker's Pottery was a small scale family run concern using locally available fire and common clay. It is thought to have been established in the early to mid-C19, and in 1841 it is described as a firebrick and earthenware manufacturer. The first edition Ordnance Survey map of 1860 shows the pottery to be well established with three updraught or bottle kilns and much of the associated infrastructure including making and drying rooms, the puddling pit and the tramway. By 1895 several changes had taken place including the construction of what is thought to be a downdraft kiln over the levelled remains of one of the bottle kilns, the construction of Newcastle or horizontal kilns, the addition of a further drying room, and the stables and walled yard. A second circular downdraught kiln was built immediately west of the first, very soon after 1895. Throughout its existence, the pottery at Corbridge produced a range of functional goods including bricks, tiles, pipes and agricultural wares such as troughs. The bricks were of a variety of forms and many were glazed and impressed with the firm's name. The pottery continued in use until the early C20.
A buildings survey report on the site was compiled by English Heritage in 2003.
PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS: the standing, buried and earthwork remains of a post-medieval pottery originally known as Walker's Pottery. The remains include a cottage, two updraft or bottle kilns, part of a tramway, at least one circular downdraft kiln and chimney, two Newcastle horizontal kilns, drying rooms with under floor heating, a puddling pond, and one or more pugmills and stables with a walled yard.
DESCRIPTION: fire clay was extracted from the adjacent fields and transported to the pottery via a tramway, which entered the site at the north-east corner, and where a 50m long section, survives as a buried feature. The remains of a puddling pit, in which clay was mixed with water and tempered by sand to improve its working and firing properties, is visible as a roughly rectangular earthwork 12m by 10m and about 1m deep, situated immediately south of the tramway. It has a stone slab bottom and is fed with water through a pipe from a spring, the clay and water mix then channelled away to the south to allow the clay particles to settle before draining off the water. This area is now occupied by the low remains of later buildings, but deposits relating to the earlier features are considered to survive below ground level.
Immediately west of the puddling pit there are the ruined remains of a large building complex. Part of this has been identified as a pugmill, in which the clay was sliced by machine. The walls of this building stand to an average height of 2.5m and the remains of large stone bearing blocks and timbers in its walls indicate the former presence of machinery. The machinery is thought to have been steam driven, and the remains of a rectangular wheel pit, 1m wide, survives at the north end of the building complex. The remains of an earlier, horse drawn pugmill are thought to survive beneath this building. The south part of the building complex is thought to have contained special making rooms in which the prepared clay was made into products. Parts of this building remain roofed with pantiles. Manufactured products were then dried in specialised drying rooms, which housed products vulnerable to frost and had under floor heating; the remains of one such building is situated immediately west of the more easterly bottle kiln, where it is visible as the lower courses of a rectangular building with walls ranging in height from 1.4m to 1.8m. Its drying floor remains in situ and is composed of interlocking tiles which are raised 0.5m above the level of the ground, and there is a fireplace at the south-east corner of the building. The second heated drying room is situated immediately west of the pugmill at the north end of the site. This building has been converted into an office and store and the upstanding structure is listed at Grade II and is not included in the scheduling. Immediately to the south of the latter drying room there are the standing remains of a small two bay brick built cottage, thought to be one of the original buildings at the site, which is also Grade II listed.
The remains of two bottle kilns, in which the manufactured products were fired, thought to date from the earliest phase; the upstanding structures are listed at Grade II* and are not included in the scheduling. The lower parts of a circular down draft kiln and its adjacent tapering chimney stack, both also listed at Grade II, are visible immediately to the north of the most easterly bottle kiln. The tapering chimney is constructed of engineering brick and stands approximately 15m high. The visible lower courses of the kiln stand to a maximum of 1.5m high; cavities in its wall open to the outer face by small round arches approximately 0.8m across. Immediately to the east of this kiln there are the slight remains of a further structure, interpreted as another downdraught kiln, which was constructed over the levelled remains of an earlier bottle kiln. The remains of at least two horizontal kilns known as 'Newcastle Kilns' are attached to the east wall of the original cottage and were present by at least 1895. They are visible as a rectangular brick structure with a pantile roof measuring 4m by 7m. The structure contains two large brick vaults 2.5m high and 5m wide which are open ended to the east, with stacks to the west. The Newcastle kilns are also listed at Grade II.
At the south-east corner of the site, there are the remains of a large stable block and walled yard, thought to have housed horses and carts used for distributing the finished goods. This brick building, built between 1860 and 1895, measures 10m by 7m and stands to a maximum height of 2.5m. There is a large cart entrance through the west wall, and a series of ceramic troughs remain in situ along the north wall of the yard.
EXTENT OF SCHEDULING: the scheduling boundary to the west side of the site includes a margin of two metres around the archaeological and structural remains. A drying room at the north end of the site which has been converted into an office and store, and the pair of upstanding bottle kilns are considered to be more appropriately managed through their respective Grade II and Grade II* listings and they are therefore excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all of these features is included. Also excluded from the scheduling are several features situated within the remains of the former stable and yard including all garden pots and containers, greenhouse, timber gates, raised timber vegetable beds, brick edging to flat beds, gravel surface and the fence posts along its north side, however, the ground beneath all of these features is included.
This list entry was subject to a Minor Amendment on 2/11/2017
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: ND 575
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
Books and journals
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Northumberland, (1992), 239
Corbridge Pottery, Milkwell Lane, Corbridge, Northumberland, Building Report, 2003, English Heritage
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing