Breaking the Mould. Stoke.

Spode Pottery Factory

Grade II listed group of factory warehouses forming the Spode Factory. National and internationally renowned Spode/Copeland firm, one of the world's leading potteries.
A cohesive survival of buildings used in continuous unbroken production from 1751 until 2008 when the firm went into administration.

Josiah Spode purchased the factory from Jeremiah Smith in 1776. He perfected the technique of transfer printing on earthen ware made from hand-engraved copper plates vital to the huge growth of the English table ware industry. Famous as a commercial enterprise Spode won high acclaim for design and innovation in the ceramic industry, the blue willow pattern one of its most famous designs. Spode won Royal warrants the last as Manufacturers of China to H.M. Queen Elizabeth II in 1971.

Factory buildings still house a unique collection of moulds in original store houses and an extensive archive, now housed in the city archive, Hanley.


Photoshoot diary

The Spode family are recorded as working in Staffordshire since 1762.

The Spode works site is on Church Street, and has been there since about 1770.

Josiah Spode is credited with the development of high quality soft paste bone china.

Josiah Spode was born in March 1733. He was the only son of a poor couple who lived in Lane Delph. When he was six his father died. Ten years later he was apprenticed to one of the foremost potters in the area, Thomas Whieldon, at the same time as Wedgwood. Spode left Whieldon when he was 21 to work with William Banks another well respected name in the area.

He perfected underglaze blue transfer printing on earthenware. This type of ware was in high demand. Previously it had been available from China but by 1784 imports had been reduced and it was harder to find. Initially Spode copied the original designs but he later added their own designs like Blue Italian, Tower Blue and Willow, which are still currently in production.

While Josiah ran the pottery works in Stoke his son, also Josiah (1755 - 1827) trained and ran the firm's warehouse in London. He opened a showroom and sale increased with this promotion. Eventually in 1797 he took over from his father. He led the development of bone china, perfecting it around 1799. It is very strong, translucent and very white in colour and is made by adding bone ash to the mix for porcelain, which became the standard English porcelain from 1800 onwards.

The same year of Josiah I's death William Copeland became a partner. After the younger Josiah died in 1827, and his own son Josiah III died two years later, William Copeland's son William Taylor Copeland bought the business outright in 1833. When he took a partner the firm became Copeland and Garrett.

The company remained in the ownership of the Copeland family until 1966 and in 1970 the company's name was changed back to Spode.

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