About Heron Cross Pottery
Heron Cross Pottery was built circa 1876 by the Hines brothers on the site of a former colliery in the street that would later bear their name. Good quality opaque porcelain and ivory ware were produced well into the twentieth century, and 1907 saw the company purchased by Grimwades.
Pottery continued to be produced until just before the war, when it was requisitioned by the government and used for the storage of bully beef and land mines. In 1961, the business was acquired by Frank William Ridge Snr, and it has stayed within the Ridge family ever since. The current owner is Christopher Ridge, who took control in 1995.
The Company Today
Today, Heron Cross Pottery Ltd continues to make fine English earthenware at the Hines Street site and also houses other innovative ceramic companies. As a grade II listed building it boasts one of the few remaining bottle kilns in the city of Stoke on Trent.
How we make our pottery
Today, we still manufacture our pottery in the traditional way. Raw material clay arrives in 25kg blocks which are then mixed in a blunger with water and chemicals to form liquid clay called slip. Thereafter, it is then poured into plaster moulds and left for approx 40 minutes to dry, during which time water is absorbed by the mould leaving the basic shape of the finished product.
Moulds are then tipped over to drain any excess slip and the resultant piece is gently removed from the mould and left to stand for 7 days. This slow drying (the leather state) is when a skilled craftsperson performs the delicate art of fettling and deseaming, using a scalpel to take away any rough edges leaving a smooth, clay piece. Before being immersed in glaze, it is then delicately sponged and left to dry for another day.
For 10 hours, the piece is then fired in a kiln, reaching temperatures of up to 1145 degrees Celsius, and then slowly cooled before hand decoration commences. Ceramic transfers or lithographs are soaked in water and applied by hand, followed by a further decoration of hand painted precious metal or colour.
The pottery is now ready for its final firing at 810 degrees Celsius, which fuses the decoration into the body of the piece. After careful quality checks the finished goods are ready for sale to the customer.