ADOO! OW AT?  Potteries dialect. Hello! How are you?  The usual reply to this greeting would be "Arm ow rate, duck. Conna grumble. At thee?"  To which you would say "Yea, fair te middlin ta."  On the other hand you might say "Bad in bed and woss up" but in that case you would certainly have a "cob on."  You could also say "Ay up, duck. Toe rate?" So now you know! And that was your first lesson in the Potteries dialect!

ACCENT or DIALECT? Accents are differences in the way that English words are spoken. Dialect has words that are unique to a particular geographical area. People from Stoke-on-Trent tend to have a Potteries accent but they may also use dialect words, i.e different words for the same meaning!


ABIDE as in "I conna abide him." Apparently, he doesn't like him!

A BITE Dialect. About.

A BITE TARM Potteries dialect. The gaffer's reaction when you're late.

ABSORPTION  The ability of a fired clay to absorb water, because of its porosity.  Used as a gauge of vitrification.

ACACIA GUM Material used in slips and glazes.  Also known as gum arabic. Reduces the surface tension of liquids. "Gum Arabic/Acacia gum is used throughout the manufacture of pottery. Mainly because it fires out easily without trace. Natural turpentine and other such oils were used for the same reasons."  See boxed cups. Thanks to Alan Hopwood for the additional information January 2021

ACKEY or ACKIE Material. Decorating department. A water-soluble resist - a mixture of flour and water that allowed the pattern to remain unaffected when a subsequent transfer print of a sheet pattern was applied over the whole surface. At the washing-off stage (when the transfer paper is removed) the areas of the transferred sheet pattern which were over the 'ackey' were washed away leaving the outline of the first pattern. This could then be hand coloured and gilded in stages after the glost firing. May be specific to Spode factory.    

ACID GOLD Decoration. A form of rich decoration created by acid etching of the glazed surface of the piece before the application and then firing of best gold . The etching effect is obtained by the immersion of the ware in hydrofluoric acid for a set period of time. Only that part of the piece to be etched is exposed to the acid; the remainder is protected by painting with a resist. After washing, the etched part is decorated with best gold. The process is only used for the highest-class ware. Expensive and luxury. Introduced by Mintons of Stoke in 1863. Dangerous for the potter to produce.

Acid gold and raised paste decoration

ACID ETCHING Process. Creates acid etched decoration - a delicate and intricate two-tone gold finish. Involves etching a pattern into the glaze using acid. The design to be etched, on white glazed china, was left bare while the remainder was covered by a resist material, some parts of which could be printed to produce the pattern. The ware was immersed in hydrofluoric acid which etched the glaze. After removal, washing and the removal of the resist the gold was then applied, fired and burnished. The burnishing tool would only touch the raised areas of gold giving a polished finish and the gold deposited in the etched area would remain matt giving an elegant two-tone, two-plane effect. A similar effect can be produced using a good quality gold lithograph laid over a special paste to give the difference in levels.

Acid resist etching at Wedwood, Barlaston, Stoke-on-Trent
Photo: Terry Woolliscroft Collection  Date: 1970 

Acid Etching - Here is a second description, from the Spode factory...   'Acid etching produced a delicate and intricate two-tone gold finish. It involved etching a pattern into the glaze using acid. The design to be etched, on white glazed china, was left bare while the remainder was covered by a resist material, some parts of which could be printed to produce the pattern. The ware was immersed in hydrofluoric acid which etched the glaze. After washing and the removal of the resist, the gold was then applied, fired and burnished. The burnishing tool would only touch the raised areas of gold giving a polished finish and the gold deposited in the etched area would remain matt giving an elegant two-tone effect. A similar effect can be produced using a good quality gold lithograph laid over a special paste to give the difference in level.

At Spode acid etching finished in about 1941. As far as can been seen from our records it began here in the early 1900s. There are two pattern books in the Spode archive which record over 500 different acid etched patterns. The pattern numbers are prefixed with 'A'.

The technique itself probably originated at the Minton factory in the 1860s but may have been subject to a patent and therefore not used by other manufacturers until later. This practice is regarded as highly dangerous today as the etching was done in hydrofluoric acid which is both poisonous and corrosive. No manufacturers are thought to use acid etching in the 21st century although Spode's sister company, Royal Worcester, used the technique until recently. Anyone using the method today would have to operate under license and a member of our technical staff says that it is unlikely that a license would now be granted.' more>

ACID PROOF No ordinary pottery can be said to be absolutely acid-proof, but the body and glaze of a good grade earthenware or china should withstand effectively the attacks of such mild acids as fruit juices. Care should be taken, however, to see that the decorations of articles intended for acidic fruits are beneath the glaze,(underglaze) since on-glaze colours are not altogether immune from attack by even mild acids.

ACID RESIST Material used during the decorating process. Decorating department. Used by the acid resist blacker in the processing of acid gold patterns by acid etching. Usually waxy material in nature. Often bituminous paint is used, hence its black colour.

ACID RESIST BLACKER Occupation. Male or female. Decorating department. The person who applies the resist material prior to acid etching.

Acid resist blacker at Wedgwood, Barlaston
Photo: Terry Woolliscroft Collection  Date: 1970 

ADAMANT Brand name of a particular type of pottery made by Twyfords Ltd. Sanitaryware. Fireclay manufactured by Twyfords of Cliffe Vale, Stoke-on-Trent.

Twyford's Adamant urinals
Gents toilets on the pier, Isle of Bute, Scotland.
Photo: Terry Woolliscroft Collection  Date: 1990

AD CUP After Dinner Cup. Small coffee cup or can. Espresso cup.

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AEROGRAPHING Process. (Also known as 'Blowed' 'Blowen' and 'Blown' at Adderley China of Longton. Adderley Pottery pattern book, 1904) ) Spraying coloured enamel in a liquid suspension, or glaze, onto a pot using a spray gun with compressed air. Such decorations are sometimes said to be 'blown.' Large surfaces of colour, either solid or shaded, can readily be applied by this means. Spraying is a cheaper method of applying colour than by ground laying.

AEROGRAPHY Process.The application of colours by spraying through stencils, or over natural materials such as leaves. Aerography is sometimes detectable by small speckles of colour adjacent to the main images.

AEROGRAPHER Occupation. Male or female, highly skilled. Using compressed air in a spray gun to spray fine droplets of ceramic colour or glaze, or engobe onto a pot.

Aerographer spraying engobe onto fine fireclay.
Limoges, France.
Photo: Terry Woolliscroft Collection  Date: 2004

AFE Potteries dialect word meaning  half.  A great sentence in Potteries language would be "Arm afe clemmed, are ram."  Meaning I'm really hungry, I am, but only half hungry!

AGATE WARE Particular type of pottery. Decorative earthenware. Popular in the 18th Century. Created by placing and pressing thin layers of different coloured plastic clay pieces together then slicing across the layers. The resulting multi-coloured slab could then be pressed into a mould to create a coloured pot. When fired the pot looks as though it is made from natural agate. More here>

AGEING Process. Storing raw freshly dug clay for a considerable period to allow it to homogenise. Moisture content will even out through the mass during ageing. Also, hard nodules of clay break down by the natural process of pulverisation. Water content naturalises improving plasticity and workability. Sometimes called weathering, maturing, or souring.

AIRED Potteries dialect word. Warm-ish. Dry-ish. You put your freshly washed clothes in the airing cupboard to be aired.

AIRED WARE Glaze fault. Poor glaze surface as a result of volatilisation of some of the glaze constituents.

ALFRED CLOUGH Master potter. 27 May 1905 - 1984. Pottery owner from Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, who mass-produced printed earthenware, dinner and tea ware, for sales outlets such as Woolworths. By 1960 he also owned W H Grindley, Cartright and Edwards, Barker Bros, and Royal Art Pottery. He operated, at one time, from the Garfield Works in Longton. Here is his photo and a pic of his 1939 oven at Garfield Works being demolished in May 1975, with young kids playing in the rubble. He was also the fireman responsible for firing The Last Bottle Oven Firing in 1978 more>

ALLEY or ALLIE A glass marble for playing marbles or shotties. "In marbles there were sayings like  "keep your nunk." That meant you hadn't got your hand on the floor when you were taking a shot with your marble. Or "you're fobbing" when you try to take your shot not from where you were supposed to be - trying to get closer to your opponents ally."   Many thanks go to Ken Salt for this information - December 2020

ALPINE PINK Self coloured bone china introduced by Josiah Wedgwood and Sons Ltd in 1936

ALSING CYLINDER Equipment. Particular type or design of ball mill. Early design used for the grinding of ceramic colours. Un-ground colour is poured into a seal-able porcelain pot together with water and sixty or seventy small porcelain balls , the grinding media. The pot is sealed and rotated for several hours during which time the balls cascade over each other and over the particles of colour, thus grinding it finer. Some designs of Alsing Cylinder are much bigger in size. Invented by J R Alsing in 1867.

ALUMINA Material used during the process.  Corundum. Aluminium Oxide, trioxide or sesquioxide. Also as a mineral additive to pottery bodies to impart strength. Alumina powder is also used as a bedding material for bone china placing.  Also used to stop ware sticking to the supports in kilns. Mined in Guyana and calcined at 1400°C prior to grinding and milling to a non-fusing powder.

AMAKUSA Material. Japanese equivalent of Cornish Stone.

AMERICAN FEVER & POTTERSVILLE  During the mid 19th century the Potteries towns were gripped with what has become known as American Fever. During the period from 1845 to 1850 a number of streets and public houses were given American names. The town of Tunstall has a number of streets named after American presidents - McKinley, Coolidge and Hoover Street all form around America Street. In Waterloo Road, Burslem is the "American" public house. In Normacot Road in Longton there is another The American pub.

The American, Longton
Before renovation in 2010

Fearing the unemployment consequences of the introduction of machinery into the pottery industry, the Pottery Union of the 1840s devised upon an amazing plan to purchase land in America on which to land a colony of unemployed potters. In May 1844, the Potters' Joint Stock Emigration Society was formed to oversee the lottery that would deliver the poor potters to the land of freedom and a new life away from his daily toil.

Twelve thousand acres of land in America were to be purchased and to be divided into sections of twenty acres each, five of which were to be cultivated and built on by the immigrants. Members of the union contributed at a daily rate for the chance to emigrate to Pottersville — the name of the new settlement in Wisconsin.

The emigrants were chosen by Ballot for the chance of a new life in Pottersville. The Union saw the scheme as a golden opportunity to introduce hope into the lives of the poor potter who's working life seemed about to be terminated by the introduction of the machines onto the factory floor.

When the first families set sail in a barge to Liverpool on the first stage of their journey to an uncertain future in Wisconsin, barges of cheering pottery workers followed them on their journey from Etruria, via Longport and Burslem. Some barges that followed the emigrants contained bands who played suitable music for the occasion. Two years later, as the machinery failed to produce the mass unemployment expected, enthusiasm for the project waned. The last vestiges of Pottersville, northeast of Pardeeville, WI., were torn down in 1989.

AMORPHOUS  Materials similar to glass which have no regular crystalline structure. Glaze is amorphous.

ANAGAMA Not found in Stoke. Traditional Japanese kiln evolving from the bank-kiln, and featuring a long, swelling inclined tubular ware chamber, with lower extreme serving as firebox.  Characteristically produces heavy flame-flashing and residual-ash effects.

A NALL or AN ALL  Dialect. Meaning 'as well as'.

A NILL or AN ILL Dialect. Steep slope!

ANCHOR CHINA Brand name of a particular type of pottery made by Sampson Bridgwood & Son, Anchor Pottery, Longton.

ANGRY A wound or sore which is painful and red and inflamed. Also an emotion.

ANLEY DUCK Hanley.  A town in North Staffordshire and one of the six Potteries Towns.  There is a habit amongst Potteries people to drop the h as it appears at the beginning of words. EG: "up anley duck." As rather than has. Ad rather than had.

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ANNA Dialect. Haven't.  As in "anna got eat"  meaning "haven't got it."

ANTIMONY OXIDE Material. Used to produce yellow colours in glaze or pigments.

APPARENT POROSITY Relation between the volume of a pot and the volume of the water absorbed when the pot is immersed in water for a period of time.

APE KNEE Dialect. Halfpenny

APRON SINK or APRON FRONT SINK Large kitchen sinks often found in rural homes. Originally designed for comfort; for women who spent long hours at the sink, when ergonomics were important. The apron front’s forward orientation eliminates the countertop that causes the user to lean forward and strain more than necessary. The Belfast and the London sinks became popular and were appropriately named after the cities where their use was permitted by the sanitation officers See more under SINK here>

ARABIAN LUSTRE Type of decoration. Onglaze lustre used by the Moors from the 9th Century. Fired in a reducing atmosphere.

ARCADED Name of a particular type of 'pierced' decoration created in the clay pot prior to firing. Used only occasionally in a potbank, but more popular with academics and collectors. See image. Many thanks go to Ian Davenport for suggesting this definition. June 2020

Bamboo & Peony pattern Arcaded Plate 7 inch E4 mark
Photo: Ian Davenport Collection

ARCADIAN WARE Brand name of ware made by Cauldon Potteries, Stoke. Also manufacturers by other potters in The Potteries.

ARCH BUNGS Part of a bottle oven. Those bungs of saggars which were placed between the bag walls in the oven. These were usually the first saggars to be placed in the oven. The cod placer had to ensure that the bungs in these arches were 'run up' and set in correctly. Arch bungs were usually tied to the crown of the oven and to the sticklers by scotches to prevent the bungs from toppling.

ARCHES Part of a bottle oven. The area between bags, placed first, with arch bungs.

ARCHITECTURAL CERAMICS Broad term covering bricks, chimney pots, roof tiles, wall tiles, floor tiles, and terracotta and faience facings.

ARK Equipment. Large storage vat or tank for ceramic slip or glaze. Rotating blades/paddles or agitators ensure that the contents don't settle into a solid lump at the bottom of the ark. Sometimes arks are lined with glazed bricks and each ark would hold around 5 tons of material. Usually below ground level. The dirty ark contained non-refined slip. The clean ark contains slip which has passed through the lawns and over magnets.

ARK Dialect. Our kid.  As in "Tow rate ark?"  meaning, "How are you our kid?" Similar to OWK. The two words, ark and owk, although they mean the same, they may originate from different areas of The Potteries. Many thanks go to Frank Millward  for this word, September 2017

ARM OH RATE DUCK Dialect reply to "Adoo ow at?" Or if the respondent wasn't feeling too well he might say that he was "bad in bed an woss up."

ARNOLD BENNETT   Novelist. Born: May 27, 1867, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. Died: March 27, 1931, London.  

An English writer. He is best known as a novelist, but he also worked in other fields such as journalism, propaganda and film.

Arnold Bennett is probably the most successful and famous British celebrity you've never heard of, unless you've tried the omelette that bears his name. [He was] the JK Rowling of his day, his books sold in huge numbers, he was a figure of huge influence in politics and culture, a friend of the newspaper magnate Lord Beaverbrook, and declined a knighthood after notable service running the French propaganda department for the British government during World War I. more>

Talking about the Five Towns in his book, The Old Wives Tale (1908), Arnold Bennett said:
"They [the Five Towns] are unique and indispensable. From the north of the county right down to the south they alone stand for civilisation, applied science, organised manufacture, and the century — until you come to Wolverhampton. They are unique and indispensable because you cannot drink tea out of a teacup without the aid of the Five Towns; because you cannot eat a meal in decency without the aid of the Five Towns. For this the architecture of the Five Towns is an architecture of ovens and chimneys; for this its atmosphere is as black as its mud; for this it burns and smokes all night, so that Longshaw has been compared to hell; for this it is unlearned in the ways of agriculture, never having seen corn except as packing straw and in quartern loaves; for this, on the other hand, it comprehends the mysterious habits of fire and pure, sterile earth; for this it lives crammed together in slippery streets where the housewife must change white window-curtains at least once a fortnight if she wishes to remain respectable; for this it gets up in the mass at six a.m., winter and summer, and goes to bed when the public-houses close; for this it exists — that you may drink tea out of a teacup and toy with a chop on a plate. All the everyday crockery used in the kingdom is made in the Five Towns - all, and much besides."

ARGATE Dialect. Holiday destination close to home.

ARSE The base inside a saggar.


ARSE The back of flatware. Plates and saucers. The area surrounded by the foot rim. The bit in the middle where the backstamp goes and which is regularly and mysteriously stared at by Stokies.


ARSE Somebody you might not get on with. Perhaps your boss! But not necessarily a mard arse.

ARSEING UP Process. Sanitaryware casting. may be peculiar to Twyfords factory. Filling the groove around the sump of a closet (created during casting) with clay. Many thanks go to Granville Bradbury for this term March 2016

ARSENIC Material. Used during the process. Introduced to the pottery industry in the 1700s when it was used as an ingredient in enamel colours. Paintresses using these treated colours soon became seriously ill after their habit of wetting their pencils with their tongues.

ART NOUVEAU A style of decorative art, architecture, and design characterised by intricate linear designs and flowing curves based on natural forms.

Art Nouveau tile

ART POTTERY or ART WARE Decorative ware of various forms and decorations (often vases) made for the growing middle-classes in the period 1875 to 1920. Produced country potteries and in factories, some of which had a special art department where signed individual pieces were produced.

ASH Material. Could be the useless waste material found in the ash pit of a bottle oven after firing.  Or it could be the amazing material after calcining ox bones for use in the Bone China recipe. Wood ash - found after burning wood is sometimes used a part of the recipe for a particular type of glaze (see below)

ASH GLAZE Material. Glaze. Mixed from wood ash which is the flux . Sometimes mixed with other materials.

ASH HOLE The ash pit underneath the firemouth in an oven or kiln. Also a Potteries dialect word. "S Hole is simply a dialect way of saying ash hole [found in coal fires in domestic premises] rather than a specifically industrial word." Many thanks to Brian Jones for this update 18 March 2016 

ASH MARL Type of saggar marl or Etruria marl. Used for making saggars.

ASH PIT Part of a Bottle Oven. At the very bottom of the firemouth under the firebars to collect the ash from the burnt coal. Sometimes called the essole and sometimes the well.

ASTRA WARE Brand name of a product of Minton Hollins & Co, Stoke. SE


AT OWE RATE? Potteries dialect.  How are you? "At owe rate owd ?"

AUGHTS (ORTS) Leftover dinner served up again for dinner or tea on the following day or the day after.

AUTOCLAVE Equipment. Laboratory. A strong, sealed, metal container, fitted with a pressure gauge and safety valve. Water is introduced into the container and boiled under pressure. A common method of testing glazed ceramic ware for crazing resistance is to expose pieces of ware to the steam in an autoclave. The method is unsatisfactory because it confuses the effects of moisture expansion (the prime cause of crazing) and thermal shock. An autoclave test is also sometimes used in the testing of vitreous enamelware.

AUGER Equipment. Machine. The corkscrew part of a pugmill. As the auger rotates within the barrel of the pug mill the clay is chopped and 'minced' and forced through the die or nozzle at the end of the machine. In this way the clay becomes more consistent and consolidated. It does mechanically what a wedger does by hand.

AUTHOR PEA DICK Potteries dialect. The local hospital.

AVANYONYERGORRANYONYONSONYER? Potteries dialect. 'Have any of you got any onions on you?'

AVENTURINE Type of glaze. A peculiar crystalline or spangled appearance due to the presence of minute crystals and flakes of haematite, limonite, ilmenite, mica etc in the glaze recipe. Sometimes the glaze is so spangly that it appears matt. Wedgwood's "Pennine" glazes from the 1960s were aventurine.


AY Potteries dialect. Often shouted to the annoyance of those nearby - especially the wife.Translation required  - "I'm sorry would you excuse me, would you mind saying that once again?"

AYUP Potteries dialect. " Hello. How's things? How are you doing?"

AY UP DUCK Potteries dialect. A friendly AYUP.  See Adoo.

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