Silverhill Pottery

From Historical Hastings

Opening in 1838[1]Silverhill Pottery was based where the current Mission Hall on Duke Road stands. The pottery was predominantly known for manufacturing chimneys and flower pots. It flourished in the middle of the 19th century, and the staff of five hands made the redware that was its speciality. Pans and crocks, flower pots and drainpipes, chimney pots and tiles, and vases made in simple tree-trunk design formed the general output of the pottery.[2] The staff were housed in the adjacent Pottery Cottages.

An advertisement for the sale or letting of the business appeared during August 1839, with Walter Inskipp and William Edlin (of the Tivoli Hotel) as agents[3]

Delicate decorated pottery or porcelain was ever produced there, but individual workmen with an artistic flair might occasionally turn out a delicately-fashioned vase that was finer craftsmanship than the run of utilitarian goods produced. The chimney pots, row upon row of which used to crown the houses of Magdalen Terrace, Bohemia Road, were all made at the pottery, as were the tiles that roofed many of the tall houses at Eversfield Place, and so were a large number of earthenware pipes used in the drainage system at Normanhurst. Clay was obtained locally, a field on the site of Vale Road supplying the raw material for most of the red ware, and the white clay for chimney pots brought from Forty Acre Field at St. Helens Down. The pottery also made use clay from the site what became the Royal Concert Hall, then the Elite Picture Theatre. The old pottery consisted of a large open shed with a tiled roof and round kiln at one end. The kiln was fed with coke and coal, though often glazing would be finished off with wood fire. It took about five days to burn a kiln. [2]

The potter worked his clay on a square bed with a wheel in the centre, operated by a treadle. As time passed clay became more and more difficult to obtain, and this fact, coupled with the high cost of fuel, sounded the death knell of the pottery. It languished gradually, and in 1886 had ceased to operate. The buildings lay derelict for some time and became a playground for children attending Silverhill School, finally being pulled down about 1896. The potters' cottages also fell empty and were ultimately condemned. With their demolition at the beginning of the twentieth century, the last link with a once-prosperous local industry disappeared. The site lay vacant, and roundabouts and travelling fairs appeared there from time time. Then the Duke Road hall was built, and dwellings now occupy the rest of the site. Most of the old local pottery families died out or migrated, but there was still living in St. Leonards during the 1930s one of the sons of Mr. John Pelling, who ran the pottery himself for many years. His sons followed his trade, and one was for a period on the staff of the famous firm of Doulton's.[2]

Mr. John Pelling came to the pottery in 1846 as foreman to Mr. Fred Tree, uncle of the Alderman B. H. W. Tree, and five years later took over the works himself, carrying them on till 1879 and living in one of the adjacent cottages. The premises are said to have been built by Mr. King Eldridge, of the St. Leonards brewery who died the mid-1800s. When Mr. Pelling gave up the pottery it was acquired by Mr. Thomas Walder, a timber merchant, who had premises on the site of the Observer buildings in Cambridge Road. He carried on the pottery until it was given up about 1886, and afterwards used the spot for storing timber.[2]

References & Notes