Swinton Pottery (The Rockingham Works), 310m and 120m north west of Keeper's Cottage
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1020067
Date first listed: 10-Jan-2000
Date of most recent amendment: 09-May-2001
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Rotherham (Metropolitan Authority)
National Grid Reference: SK 44069 98859, SK 44272 98767
Reasons for Designation
Wheel thrown pottery has been made in Britain since at least the Roman
period. Potteries were usually located in close proximity to raw material
sources, primarily good quality clay, but also fuel for firing the kilns and
water. Products were varied but were dominated by a wide variety of domestic
items. During the Roman and medieval periods the industry was largely rural
and regionally based. It was only in the 17th century that the industry began
to concentrate in fewer areas, particularly in the north Midlands (which had
good clay and wood sources), as new patterns of distribution and marketing
began to take effect. The later post-medieval pottery industry underwent major
changes during the 18th century, stimulated generally by the needs of a
growing market and particularly the new fashion for tea and coffee drinking
which demanded high quality table wares. Technical experimentation and
entrepreneurial flare provided the driving force for an unprecedented increase
in both the volume and quality of production, accompanied by a growth in
mechanisation and organisational sophistication. The later post-medieval
pottery industry owes much of its character and development to four main
influences; the introduction of tin-glazed earthenware (`delftware') in the
later 16th/early 17th century; the development of German-inspired salt-glazed
stoneware in the later 17th century, and in the 18th century, the perfection
of affordable quality earthenware in Staffordshire and the discovery of the
secret of porcelain manufacture. Potteries included a range of buildings in
which raw materials were stored, processed, turned 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.
Swinton is significant as a survival of a fully integrated pottery works incorporating the remains of evidence for the exploitation, storage and processing of raw materials for pottery production, the production of the pottery itself, and for the packing and transportation of materials and finished products. It is also one of the few places in the country representing the development from coarse earthenwares for the local market, to fine pottery and porcelain for export. In fact its origins in the mid-18th century were as part of a concern which produced bricks and tiles, so it spans an even wider range of clay products, making it almost certainly unique.
The standing, buried and earthwork remains, sherds from the site, intact wares, invoices, maps and other documentary sources combine to provide an unusually complete picture of the pottery and its wares. Rockingham porcelain was renowned and, taken as a whole, Swinton Pottery will greatly enhance our understanding of the pottery industry, and the social and economic position the works held in the wider, post-medieval, industrial landscape.
The monument lies on the western edge of Swinton town and occupies land to
the north and south of Blackamoor Road, in two areas of protection. It
includes standing, buried and earthwork remains of a post-medieval pottery
complex which was originally known as Swinton Pottery and later as The
Swinton Pottery was a small concern using locally available clay and coal to make brick, tile and coarse domestic earthenware pottery. The first recorded owner is Joseph Flint, who in the 1740s paid rent to the first Marquis of Rockingham for digging clay and renting a brickworks, tileyard and pot house. The works steadily expanded under subsequent owners, including William Malpass whose activities in the region included coal mining, lime burning and glass making as well as pottery production. A map of around 1776 shows his landholdings extending to the east and west of the pottery which, together with the Earl's lands and Swinton Common, took in a range of resources such as clay, coal, the farm and farmlands, woods, streams and willow garths.
In 1785 a major change took place when the then partners Bingley Wood and Co went into partnership with the large and important Leeds Pottery. The two concerns were run as one, trading as Greens, Bingley and Co but this partnership was dissolved in 1806 and the pottery was taken over by the Brameld family. The Brameld family extended the range of earthenwares and added buildings to the complex, including workers' cottages and a flint mill (in which calcined flint was ground before being added to the clay to add strength and body to it). Experiments in porcelain production began about 1820 but this together with unsuccessful foreign trading and other factors led to bankruptcy in 1825. The pottery was rescued by the landlord, Earl Fitzwilliam, and was renamed The Rockingham Works in 1826. The pottery then began the manufacture of fine and elaborately decorated porcelain. Porcelains made at the Rockingham works became internationally renowned, particularly the dessert service made for William IV, which is still displayed on state occasions. The works finally closed in 1842.
The monument survives as a series of standing, buried and earthwork remains. Features surviving above ground from the later pottery works include: one bottle kiln (used for firing or glazing) which is a Listed Building Grade II*, a gatehouse (originally one of a pair), Strawberry Cottage (originally part of the printshop range of work buildings). A series of ponds, which provided the large quantities of water required by the pottery, survive surrounded and contained by clay and earthen embankments. The second gatehouse and the flintmill were demolished early in the 20th century and Flintmill Farm, which was situated approximately 200m to the south west of Strawberry Cottage, was demolished in the late 1970s. On the site of the farm sections of walling two or three courses high survive above the ground surface. Earthworks indicate the sites of other buildings and features within the complex and serve to show the level of survival beneath the ground surface.
The site of the early 18th century pottery works is uncertain but is thought to lie in the general area later occupied by the pottery. Early 19th century engravings and 18th and 19th century maps show the layout and development of the later pottery buildings. From these it is clear that Strawberry Cottage was originally part of a range of workshops and warehouses which were arranged around a courtyard. The attached and associated buildings extended to the north, east and west, with Strawberry Cottage forming part of the southern range. The surviving kiln now sits in relative isolation, approximately 55m north west of Strawberry Cottage, but a map of 1849 indicates that both buildings were integral parts of the courtyard. Earthworks to the west and north west of Strawberry Cottage indicate that remains of the interlinking buildings do survive beneath the ground surface. Parts of the original cobbled yard and building foundations have been revealed during building work in the vicinity of Strawberry Cottage and are believed to survive in other areas of the complex. Part of the original pottery boundary wall, built to provide security and deter theft, also survives to the east of the access drive to Strawberry Cottage. The small section of the revetted wall is illustrated in its entirety on an engraving dated 1827.
Flintmill Farm is first mentioned in 1806 but is thought to have been part of the concern from the late 18th century. It served as a working farm, providing stabling for draught horses and including willow garths and plantations of crate wood. These latter provided materials to make willow baskets and wooden casks into which wares were placed, packed in straw ready for transportation.
To the north of the surviving gatehouse are areas of former open quarrying for coals and clays associated with the Swinton Pottery Coal Seam, which out- cropped here in a seam about 1 foot thick along a roughly east-west line just north of the pottery works. Clays in the area were suitable for brick, tile and pottery; there is reference in the records to red, yellow and white clays, fireclay and a fine pipeclay.
The quarrying on the north side of the pottery site is represented by an elongated former pit stretching from the gatehouse north to Warren Vale Road, with steep terraces extending to the east, along the south side of Warren Vale Road, where it is largely occupied by late 20th century houses and gardens. That part of the former pit and terrace surviving as an open grassed area forming part of the local authority's Pottery Ponds amenity area is included in the scheduling. The former pit, partly infilled at the northern end, carries the main northern access road into the pottery via the gatehouse, and incorporates the site of a limekiln shown on the 1850 Ordnance Survey map. The limekiln was probably used either for production of mortar for use on the pottery buildings, or for manufacturing Plaster of Paris for pottery moulds; raw limestone or gypsum would have been shipped into the area for burning here near the fuel supply.
To the south of this quarry, and to the west of the large pond and the late 18th-19th century pottery buildings, is a shallow valley stretching towards Flintmill Farm, containing a series of marshy depressions and ponds. These hollows and ponds, some or all of which probably originated as claypits, have been adapted to provide a water supply for the pottery and farm. From the north, in the area below the limekiln quarry and west of the large pond, is a series of three shallow silted pits or ponds - now mostly reedbeds but with standing water in places - separated by low banks or level areas of higher ground. The northernmost one has a clearly defined rectangular north west corner cut into the slope. A drain cut from these leads to a rectangular excavated `reservoir' pond, still water-filled, with clearly defined sides and a banked dam across its lower, southern, end, beyond which are two further silted ponds. To the north east of the rectangular pond is a roughly circular platform, about 20m across, standing above the marshy ground. These water management features and other prominent earthworks to the south, towards Flintmill Farm, indicate the survival of structural remains beneath the ground surface. The valley area is also thought to be the site of the willow garths mentioned in early 19th century documents, which supplied osiers to make baskets for transporting finished goods.
It seems clear that the larger embanked ponds to the east were added later to supply the later larger pottery works. They lie on the clays near the exposed coal seam, in an area which would have been occupied by quarrying activity in the early days and, like the other ponds, may have originated as claypits.
Along the boundary down the east side of the northern section of the valley, from the west side of the gatehouse to the west side of the Waterloo Kiln, is an embanked track, with drystone revetting visible in places on its west side, and a series of mature trees representing the remnants of an avenue. Known locally as The Old Coach Road (recorded by Dr A Cox), this formed part of the road shown on the Enclosure Award Plan of 1816 as running from Fox Lands Hill beside Warren Vale Road in the north, southwards between the pottery works and the farm (later Flintmill Farm) to Blackamoor Road. Its line is perpetuated by garden and field boundaries. The Enclosure Plan shows that the road was allocated to Earl Fitzwilliam and, presumably, as such, it could be readily incorporated by him into the pottery site. The earl was closely involved with the development of the works, including financing new building around the time of Enclosure. At Enclosure he seems to have consolidated his holdings here to include all the land in and around the pottery site. The road appears to have fallen out of use, or was deliberately diverted, due to the pottery interests here, and was incorporated into the site.
In the field to the east of Strawberry Cottage, earthworks survive up to 1m in height, although the majority are approximately 0.5m high. A platform to the south of the easternmost pottery pond, and a second abutting the eastern field boundary, show the positions of more structures and can be correlated with pottery buildings shown on late 18th and early 19th century maps. Further east, in the garden of 13 Woodman Drive, buried structural remains are indicated by crop marks, earthworks incorporated into the flower beds, and artefacts recovered from the garden.
To the east of the pottery site, on the other side of Blackamoor Road, in the angle formed by that road, Warren Vale Road to the east, and a footpath to the south, is a triangular quarry or pit, occupied now by Three Corner Plantation. Geological and historical information indicates the area was a claypit, probably dug in the 18th/early 19th century, in association with the pottery, and was subsequently used by the pottery as a store of raw materials, including calcined flint (which is represented by extensive dumps of calcined flint flakes ready for grinding in the flint mill), and dumps of pottery waste (eg on the roadside nearest to the pottery along Blackamoor Road), which include fragments of broken pottery, saggers, moulds, ashes, pieces of gypsum, coal, sandstone etc., probably dumped in readiness for disposal for road building or landfill.
Accounts of Surveyors of the Highways dating from 1780, indicate that waste from Swinton Pottery was not generally tipped on or near the site as was customary elsewhere. Instead it was sold for the repair of the local roads. This would explain the relatively few waster sherds (fragments of pottery from wares that have distorted during the firing process) recovered during the small scale excavations and limited fieldwork which have been carried out on and around the site. However, the sherds that have been recovered have been instrumental in the understanding of the wares produced at Swinton. Between 1745 and 1806 wares did not generally bear makers' marks and were therefore difficult to assign to a particular pottery, but by comparing intact wares with sherds recovered from the site, a typology is emerging. During most of the pottery's existence the proprietors supplied wares to their landlords at nearby Wentworth House. Many of the invoices detailing these wares have survived and provide a unique opportunity in the study of ceramics to relate sherds, invoices and intact wares.
Strawberry Cottage, its associated garage and stables, the gatehouse and garden sheds, all modern fences, track surfaces and hardstandings are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: 29957
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Cox, A, Cox, A, Rockingham Pottery and Porcelain 1745-1842, (1983), 1-254
Cox, A, Cox, A, 'Transactions of the English Ceramic Circle' in Recent excavations at the Swinton Pottery: White slatglazed ston, , Vol. 11, 3, (1983), 232-254
Cox, A, Cox, A, 'Journal of the Northern Ceramic Society' in The Closure Of Rockingham Works. Pt 1 New Documents Relating To, , Vol. 12, (1995), 93-150
Cox, A, Lockett, T, 'The Connoisseur' in The Rockingham Pottery, 1745-1842, a preliminary excavation, , Vol. March, (1970), 171-176
Cox, A, Cox, A, 'Transactions of the English Ceramic Circle' in Recent excavations at the Swinton Pottery: The Leeds Connection, , Vol. 11, 1, (1981), 50-69
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