The Hot Throbbing Heart of The Potteries

The Potteries Bottle Oven : the huge, imposing, and towering brick-built, bottle-shaped structure, up to 70 feet high, once essential in the making of pottery

“In the pottery district of North Staffordshire, chimneys may at any time be seen vomiting forth black smoke filling the streets and roads to such an extent as sometimes to impede vision beyond a distance of a few yards." The report for 1878 of the Medical Officer of the Local Government Board

In 1939 there were about 2000 bottle ovens, or strictly speaking, bottle-shaped structures of various types used for firing pottery ware or its components. They dominated the landscape of The Potteries of Stoke-on-Trent.

"It's a fine day if you can see the other side of the road"


In 2016 there are 46.  Only one remains in working order - the oven at Hudson and Middleton's factory in Normacot Road, Longton, site of the Last Bottle Oven Firing in August 1978. None will ever be fired again. The Clean Air Act of 1956, and their delicate condition have put paid to that.

At the multi-award-winning Gladstone Pottery Museum, in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, there are 5 bottle ovens. There are also two bottle ovens, next door, at the Roslyn Works. This is the most important and precious group of buildings in The Potteries. 

This site has been archived for preservation by the British Library

In deference to the church next door

Longton bottle ovens. Taken from Normacot Road, towards Chelson Street (was formerly Bagnall Street) with St. James Church to the left, out of view. New Chelsea Porcelain Co. The cross was created in glazed bricks on the chimney stack, on the whim of the kiln builder in deference to the church. Both pics taken in 1970 with just a few months between (exact dates not recorded)

Bottle oven chimney ornamentation. Chelson Street Longton.
Photo:  Terry Woolliscroft Collection   Date: 1970   more here>


Probably the last commercial bottle oven firing?

It is probable that this was the penultimate commercial bottle oven firing in The Potteries.  It was at the factory of Acme Marls, Bournes Bank, Burslem and it took place in the summer of 1976. This small selection of photos was taken at the event. more here>

One further firing took place at the factory before production was transferred to a new site.

Acme Marls, Burslem July/August 1976
Final temperature of close-on 1400C has been reached
Thermocouple and block removed from the top of the clammins and the crown damper cracked open
photos: Terry Woolliscroft Collection  more here