Books & Links


Bottle Ovens and the Story of the Final Firing

by Terry and Pam Woolliscroft

The only full account of the last time a bottle oven was fired in The Potteries 

In 1978 Gladstone Pottery Museum in Stoke-on-Trent had the audacious idea of firing a potters' bottle oven, with coal, for the very last time. This traditional way of firing pottery had ended in the early 1960s with the introduction of the Clean Air Act. Before all the knowledge and skills of firing a bottle oven were consigned to history the museum embarked on a project which proved to be an enormous undertaking, massively complex and tremendously daunting. This book, published in the 40th anniversary year, tells the story of The Last Bottle Oven Firing.

Part 1 answers the question 'What is a bottle oven?'
Part 2 details the entire 1978 final firing with contemporary reports and previously unseen images and a full programme of events.
Part 3 is a bottle oven dictionary explaining some of the unusual words specific to bottle ovens and the pottery industry.

This book, written by two of the organisers of the Last Bottle Oven Firing in 1978, tells the full story of the final firing. The details are drawn from contemporary audio and film recordings, photos taken by Gladstone volunteers and professionals, committee meeting minutes, surviving notebooks, the event log book, media reports, management reports and remarkable recollections of some of the 72 volunteers involved.

The book was conceived, planned, researched, written, designed, printed, published and distributed entirely in The Potteries of Stoke-on-Trent. Produced with the generous support of  the Friends of The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery

£12.99 from Gladstone Pottery Museum shop
Mail Order by phone with credit card  +44 (0) 1782 237777

"...wonderful book! ...superbly detailed and presented 
- the copious illustrations and photographs are terrific."  Ray Johnson MBE

"Love this book's mixture of information, narrative, memories, snapshots,technical diagrams and the glossary of Stoke words."  Val Bott MBE 

"…incredibly interesting, informative and very well illustrated. I can recommend it to anyone who is interested in the history behind the pottery industry." Brian Milner

Bottle Ovens

Pam Woolliscroft
Published in 1977 when Pam was the first curator of the Gladstone Pottery Museum, Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, England. Gladstone Pottery Museum.

OUT OF PRINT 2018 Superseded by Bottle Ovens and the Story of the Final Firing  by Terry Woolliscroft and Pam Woolliscroft (see above)

Manufacturing Processes of Tableware during the 18th and 19th Centuries

Robert Copeland, 
Northern Ceramic Society, 2009,  ISBN: 978-0-9563159-0-8

Dictionary of Ceramics

A. E. Dodd,  
George Newnes Ltd.,  1967

Art and History of the Potting Business

William Evans

Ceramic Faults and their Remedies

Harry Fraser
A&C Black, 2005

Pottery Ovens, Fuels, and Firing

Stanley R. Hind
British Pottery Manufacturers Federation


Mervyn Jones
Secker and Warburg, 1961

Notes on the Manufacture of Earthenware

E.A.Sandeman, 1921

An Encyclopaedia of the Ceramic industries - 3 volumes

Alfred B Searle
Ernest Benn London, 1929/1930

Dialect Words and Phrases used in the Staffordshire Potteries

Compiled by Robert Nicholls, 
Crewe, 1934

From the - British Pottery Promotion Service Ltd - c1970

Decorating Terms - British Pottery

Process Chart - The Making of British Domestic Pottery

Films - British Pottery

Copyhold Potworks & Housing in the Staffordshire Potteries 1700-1832 

by Peter Roden
Published 2008; ISBN 978-0-9559317-0-3
More details here>


The Potteries

An extraordinary all-encompassing website about The Potteries here>

Gladstone Pottery Museum History

The story behind the history of Gladstone Pottery Museum website here>

Sociophonetic Variation in Stoke-on-Trent's Pottery Industry

Hannah Leach, 
PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.  2018

This thesis presents a sociophonetic analysis of two dialect variables in twenty-six speakers who worked in Stoke-on-Trent's pottery industry.

"I used to hate Stoke-on-Trent. Growing up there, I thought it was boring, insular, grotty, and I couldn’t wait to get away. When I discovered linguistics, I realised barely anything had been done on Stoke-on-Trent’s local accent (which baffled me), so I started to work on it. Ten years later, not only have I completed three theses on various aspects of the local variety, doing so has enabled a complete turnaround in my attitude to the city. In the BBC’s 2009 adaptation of Austen’s Emma, Mr Knightley says of Miss Bates, “she deserves your compassion, not your contempt”, and that’s stuck with me. Stoke-onTrent has had an enormous reversal of fortunes and yet, its residents’devotion to their art and heritage remains steadfast (and so it should, because nothing is comparable to Potteries ware), as does their warmth and humility. I’ve frequently described my thesis as “my big, tragic love letter to Stoke”, and I hope that comes across to anyone who reads it. I owe the city for bringing me up and giving me a purpose."  Hannah Leach

BBC Newsreel 1948