Wetheriggs Pottery

Wetherig­gs was a great exam­ple of a coun­try pot­tery and was pre­served as a muse­um. Our vis­it took place in 2011, but you are advised to check the sta­tus of the muse­um before visiting.

This excerpt is from the mag­a­zine Indus­tri­al His­to­ry in Spring 1977 . The full arti­cle can be found here, though no author is credited.

(Wetherig­gs) was sched­uled in 1973 as an Ancient Mon­u­ment. Many tile-works were built in the Lake Dis­trict in the 19th cen­tu­ry, to make pipes for land drainage, and Wetherig­gs was one of these. It was devel­oped in the mid­dle of the cen­tu­ry on part of Lord Brougham’s estate, where there was a seam of red clay and the Eden Val­ley rail­way could bring coal and take away the pot­tery’s products.

Wetherig­gs made knead­ing bowls for dough, bread crocks, barm pots for yeast for bak­ing and brew­ing, bar­ley wine flagons, syrup jars, vine­gar bot­tles, milk and cream bowls, but­ter churns and pots, bak­ing dish­es, starch pans, tea-bot­tles for rail­way­men, cham­ber pots, hen-feed­ers, bee­tle-traps, flower pots, ani­mals feed troughs, and bricks, tiles and drainpipes.

The decline of earth­en­ware pot­ter­ies began in the last (19th) cen­tu­ry. With urban­i­sa­tion, few­er peo­ple made their own bread and brewed their own beer. More­over crafts­men found it hard to com­pete with fac­to­ries; mass pro­duc­tion brought the price of chi­na down. At the begin­ning of the present (20th) cen­tu­ry there were still over 100 earth­en­ware pot­ter­ies left in Eng­land. How­ev­er by 1945 there were under a dozen left. Each of these served a rur­al area. But even farms gave up using earth­en­ware when cen­tralised dairies col­lect­ed the milk, and farm­ers gave up mak­ing but­ter and cheese and cur­ing meat.

In order to sur­vive, Wetherig­gs made an increas­ing amount of hor­ti­cul­tur­al and dec­o­rat­ed ware. Flower pots, cro­cus bowls, straw­ber­ry pots and dec­o­rat­ed vas­es were pop­u­lar, and whole­sale orders were tak­en for these. Vis­i­tors were encour­aged to look around the pot­tery, and the post-war growth in tourism kept the pot­tery going, through the sale of dec­o­rat­ed mugs, jugs, vas­es, can­dle­sticks and salt-pots.”

Wetherig­gs did fall into dis­re­pair only to be tak­en up again lat­er (dates are some­what sketchy). This is a fas­ci­nat­ing video from the 1990’s show­ing Wetherig­gs being run by Peter Strong as a very indus­tri­ous work­ing pot­tery and vis­i­tor centre.

The future of Wetherig­gs as a her­itage site is cur­rent­ly under threat from devel­op­ers. There has been a peti­tion to save it and fur­ther offers are afoot.

In the mean­time, enjoy this pic­ture gallery and com­ments on what was under­stood about Wetherig­gs operations.