Posted by: stokiecat | March 30, 2015

Bottle Kiln Bimble – LSR 29/03/2015

One of the most iconic images of the Stoke-on-Trent is undoubtedly the bottle kiln, or bottle oven.  The “bottle” refers to the shape of the kiln, with a broad base narrowing to a chimney at the top, although there is much variation in the shape of the individual kilns. Used for the firing process, tuning clay into pottery, bottle kilns dominated the Potteries skyline. At one point it was estimated there were 4000 bottle kilns across the city, with as many as 2000 still in existence as late as 1950.  Now there are officially only 47 remaining ovens all with listed status which reflect their status as a remnant of the once dominant industry of the city.

Another fact that most people know about Stoke-on-Trent is that it is one city made up of six towns. This run takes in four of the six towns, starting in Longton at the Gladstone Pottery museum which is well worth a visit to learn how a traditional potbank worked and to get a chance to throw a pot. For the last four years it has also held the spiffing Longton beer festival in July. 19 of the kilns on the list are in Longton which reflects the fact that for a long period it was the focus of ceramic manufacture in the city,  I then ran through Fenton, Stoke and Hanley, ticking off 32 of the bottle kilns on the official list. A single potbank could have more than one kiln which is why the actual number of sites viewed is only 17. Also this run took place during very British weather, i.e. it was throwing it down, which is why the pictures seem particularly bleak.

1. & 2. Gladstone Pottery Museum & Roslyn Works, Uttoxeter Road Longton

Roslyn & Gladstone There are actually 6 kilns on these sites, 4 as part of the museum and 2 as part of the Roslyn Works, a 16 studio/workshop space for artists and artisans.

Gladstone small kiln This shows the smallest Gladstone kiln in the right hand corner, which can’t be seen in the picture above. It’s possible this is one of only two surviving decorating kilns, but you’ll need to visit the museum and speak to the experts to confirm.

3. Enson Works – Chelson Street/Short Street, Longton

Enson Works 1The Centre of Refurbishment Excellence (CoRE) has restored the old Enson works to an exceptional standard.  There are 4 kilns here, including one which is open to the public and can be viewed from above.

4. The Shenton Kiln, Short Street, Longton

Enson Works The two kilns sticking out here are actually the Enson Works, the single Shenton Kiln is behind the building on the right! I’ll have to tick this one off next time….

5. The Minkstone Kiln, Warren Street/Normacot Road, Longton

minkstone Minkstone 1 I’m hoping that the scaffolding here is a sign that this is under refurbishment.

6. & 7. Hudson and Middleton & Sutherland Works, Normacot Road/Beaufort Road, Longton

Hudson & Middleton & Caroline The two large kilns in the centre of the picture are the Sutherland Works, home of Birchcroft China.  The chimney top you can see to the right is the kiln that is part of Hudson and Middleton. Both sites are current commercial pottery producers.

8. Commerce Works, Commerce Street, Longton

Commerce Street Two enclosed kilns, looking rather forlorn on the main one way system around Longton Town Centre.

9.  Phoenix works, King Street, Longton

Phoenix Works Two kilns and a chimney.  This is the rear view from Longton Railway Station. The main factory section, fronting onto King Street, has recently been refurbished and is looking quite good.  These will also be visible on the route of the Potteries Marathon (don’t forget to enter).  More about sights to see on the Potteries Marathon route in a future post.

10. & 11. Heron Cross Pottery & James Kent Works

Heron Cross James Kent 2 The only two sites in Fenton with bottle kilns. The three kilns in the right hand picture are on the site of the James Kent Group specialising in ceramic materials.

12. Falcon Works/Goss Works/Portmerion, Sturgess Street, Stoke

Goss Works Two kilns not in use but owned by one of the remaining big name pottery manufacturers in Stoke-on-Trent.

13. Dolby Pottery, Lytton Street, Stoke

Lytton Street Looking like the kiln most likely to fall down, it would be a shame if it did because it’s the one everyone sees if they arrive into Stoke-on-Trent by rail.

14. Former Twyfords, Shelton New Road, Cliff Vale, Hanley

Cliffe Vale 1 These two are “2 calcining kilns of circular section joined together at base, but with free-standing caps” restored by Countryside Properties in 2008.

Cliffe Vale 3 The factory no longer exists but it has been replaced by some rather nice canal side apartments.

15. Smithfield Pottery, Warner Street, Hanley

hanley ring road 2 Also pictured to the right, a £20+ million waste of tax payers money

16. Wedgwood Buller’s Works, Lichfield Street, Hanley

wedgwood bullers works I’m not sure but from the outside this looks like an apartment building, and a pretty smart conversion at that. It’s a good example of putting heritage to use.

17. Johnson’s Pottery, Eastwood Street, Hanley

Johnsons Eastwood Works The last two kilns on this section before I turned back towards home. These are actually in the middle of a new housing development so the land isn’t quite as derelict as this picture appears.

The remaining kilns in Hanley and Burslem will be visited on a run in the future, Tunstall not being included because there are no kilns left in the town.So that’s the first bottle kiln bimble done, this is the Bottle Kiln Bimble _ Strava Route Cue Sheet  if anyone wants to see the actual route. If I was more tech savvy I would do pinpoint exactly where the kilns are on the route, but I’m not, sorry 🙂



  1. Love this about The Potteries. Been doing tree and it is fascinating to learn about he past communities


  2. […] aka the land of the soap dodgers. Having done Longton, Fenton and some of Hanley in my previous Bottle Kiln Bimble, I was tracking down the remaining ovens, firstly in Hanley and then in Burslem. This run […]


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