Survey 1976

'OPERATION BOTTLE' - The Bottle Oven Survey

The survey of the remaining bottle ovens of The Potteries - 1975/76

On 22 November 1975 and then during the winter of 1975-76 a team of volunteers from 'North Staffs Junior Chamber' and Gladstone Working Pottery Museum set about surveying the last remaining bottle ovens in The Potteries. There were exactly 60 on the list. The basis of the survey was a questionnaire prepared by David Sekers, Director of Gladstone Pottery Museum.

The team's leader was Frank Galbraith, Former Chairman, Community Development Commission, North Staffs Junior Chamber.

Operation Bottle  at the Crown Works, Steventon Place, Burslem
Frank Galbraith (Team Leader)  and Robin Stokoe (age 11)
Photo: Terry Woolliscroft Collection   Date: February 1976

All of the remaining ovens in The Potteries were identified, owners contacted and permission sought to photograph and measure them in as much detail a possible. The survey was concluded in May 1976.

Frank Galbraith acknowledged the work of the team.

"Due acknowledgement must be made to a number of people who opened the author's eyes to the delights of "bottle-ovening" and made the survey and this publication possible. 

To David Sekers and his staff at Gladstone Pottery Museum for their help and encouragement, the President and Council of North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce who gave the opportunity for the Community Development Commission to go ahead with the project, to Malcolm Nixon for his encouragement and advice, to Joe Mountford of Hanley, a retired kiln builder who gave much information on building, Dr. Francis Celoria of Keele University for advice, Patricia Pitts for practical help in typing, lastly a special mention to the team who turned out in all weathers of the winter, and who maintained their enthusiasm throughout. 

They were :- David Bond, Helen Bakhoff, Trevor Burgess, Philip Machin, Arthur Sleight, John Smith, Chris Stokoe, Terry Woolliscroft, and Niall Rogers. Last but far from least a special mention for Robin Stokoe, aged 11, who also attended most of the sessions in all weathers and had extra duties in examining small apertures at the back of firemouths and the like."

It was a mammoth task. Each of the team members were rewarded with a memento - a 6 inch high model bottle oven in unglazed red earthenware created at Gladstone Pottery Museum by two of the crafts people Hilda Woodward and Kevin Millward.

"Operation Bottle" - The survey of the remaining bottle ovens in The Potteries
Survey by North Staffs Junior Chamber 1975 - 1976.  Leader Frank Galbraith
Model oven by Kevin Millward and Hilda Woodward at Gladstone Pottery Museum
Photo: Terry Woolliscroft Collection

An exhibition illustrating the results of the survey was created at Gladstone Pottery Museum and shown during June and July 1976.

The survey recorded a total of exactly 60 ovens.
They were divided into four main types:
  • updraught 
  • downdraft 
  • muffle 
  • calcining
More about types of bottle oven here>

Below is the list and their locations

On the page you will see grid references which indicate the exact location of the ovens surveyed.You can see the location on a map if you type the Grid Reference number into the appropriate box on this website here> 

Here is an example Grid Reference SJ913432 - Gladstone Working Pottery Museum

Grid Reference SJ913432 - Gladstone Working Pottery Museum, Longton, Stoke-on-rent

  Operation Bottle - DRAFT REPORT   
Draft partial report written by Frank Galbraith, the team leader of the survey.

Download the draft, partialreport pdf  here>  No 'final' report was produced.

For definitions of unusual terms used in The Potteries go to The Potbank Dictionary here>