Local industrial archaeology

Pottery bottle oven, Longport, Stoke-on-Trent. Next to the Trent and Mersey canal. I can’t remember the name of the pottery sorry. I think there are only 32 of these old pottery ovens left in Stoke-on-Trent. A few, like at Middleport pottery and the Gladstone Pottery museum are preserved and in good condition. Others are derelict or semi derelict. A few are just the bases of them left on the ground. Some are being rescued and repurposed, but others are dreadfully neglected as this one is.

Bottle ovens/kilns and enamel kilns burn at different temperatures. They were different shapes, the enamel ones are thinner. The outside bottle shape has a doorway into it and surrounds a cylindrical kiln where the pottery is placed. The pottery itself is stacked in ‘saggars’- round or oval shaped covers that protect the ceramics as the kiln is ‘fired’. These old fashioned kilns were heated with coal. The clay and fires lead to lung diseases, which were also found in local miners. As coal firing was stopped because of the clean air act many of these potteries closed or converted to gas firing in modern kilns. Old photos from the turn of the 19th century show many bottle ovens all over the city and the pall of smoke they created.

Stoke-on-Trent has clay, water and coal in abundance which is why the pottery industry set up here as well as a few other places in the UK. There are many books about the industrial archaeology of the area are available. Other information can be found at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in the city centre (Hanley), Stoke-on-Trent.

Foot in it?

When you take a photo of your work and post it in Instagram… Don’t include your foot! I was trying to take a photo of my necklaces on display at the waiting room gallery at Longport, Stoke-on-Trent. I’m pleased to say I have sold two necklaces and a small painting. It’s taken six months, but now they can allow people in again it might do better. I may arrange to make some more pieces.

I won’t be including my feet!

Swans protecting Cygnets

We saw this family of Swans on our walk round Westport today. The Cygnets are almost adult size now and are stretching their wings and legs and are starting to change from soft down to white plumage.

As we stood and took photos several people walked past with dogs. The male Swan reacted by hissing loudly. One woman and her friends had three small dogs with them. Her friends walked swiftly by but she was panicking and wouldn’t move so I asked her to hand me the dogs lead and I held it while I stood between the Swan and her dog. The Swan just hissed but didn’t attack. She got past and I carried on with my walk. X

Jupiter tryptich

A tryptich I did a couple of years ago. It’s for sale at the Waiting room gallery in Longport, Stoke-on-Trent. Based on one of the photos from the Juno mission to Jupiter a few years ago. It shows the bands of Jupiter viewed from above one of the poles of the planet. I also did a large blue painting of one of Jupiter’s poles too. It was very difficult to capture the swirls and vortices that make up it’s atmosphere. These are acrylic on canvas.

At the Waiting Room Gallery

We visited again today to see how things are going at the Waiting room gallery. Things are happening, there are new people helping to organise the gallery spaces and it looks like they are going to have a sales /shop area and seperate exhibition space both downstairs and upstairs. The Gallery is still linked with the work going on at Longport Station to restore it. I hope that it all happens soon and without delays to their plans. I will write more as I find out what is happening.

Longport Station isn’t open to the public at the moment but it is a small station between Stoke and Manchester. It was once part of the LMS line (London Manchester and Scottish line).

Short walk with bluebells…

Finally had a short walk today! We went to Cherished Chimneys which is a shop that sells chimneys and pottery at Longport, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. and the Waiting Room gallery across the road in the same place. Then we walked round Westport lake, which is just half a mile away along the canal. We saw blossom and bluebells along the canal and round the lake. We avoided heavy clouds as we walked. I think it had rained heavily in Stoke as the path was soaking wet when we got home.

Weeping willows

Shaggy giants with delicate fronds of leaves hanging down and blowing in the cold wind. I’ve sat underneath a willow tree, back against its trunk, hidden behind the curtain of leaves. I was only young and it was like sitting in a fairytale. I remember the sunlight sparkling and dancing through the lace like leaves.

Dry ground, roots, scuffed by ducks and geese. Memories of the 1960’s. So long ago, but we’ll remembered.

Finally walking again

As we arrived at Westport Lake today it started to snow. It didn’t stick, but children were running screaming as it came down thick and fast. We sat and waited in the car till it stopped. I didn’t take a photo of it because my phone was stuck in my pocket trapped between me and the car door.

Then out, a quick visit to the icecream van for a treat and round the latge lake once and the small one twice. No where near as far as I would normally do, but I managed to get enough steps and heart points in to meet my daily challenge. I’m shattered but happy!