The Duke of Bridgewater Inn: A Glimpse into Longport's Past

· 5 min read
The Duke of Bridgewater Inn: A Glimpse into Longport's Past
The Duke of Bridgewater showing the frontage of New Bridge Works

Longport, near Burslem, is home to a master Potter's House that once belonged to the Wedgwood Family. While many might assume I am referring to Wedgewood's big house in the heart of Burslem, this is another house built during the same era by another prominent Pottery family. This is the Duke of Bridgewater Pub, or what remains of it, as it now stands completely abandoned.

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Nestled by the canal, the Duke of Bridgewater Pub serves as a reminder of the bustling activity that once took place here. It was connected to New Bridge Pottery, which was established in 1822 by Edward and George Phillips. Surprisingly, the Phillips family had no prior background in pottery. However, Edward's marriage to the ward of Josiah Wedgewood, Benedicta Wedgewood, provided them with valuable insights into the craft. She was the daughter of Thomas Wedgwood of Overhouse Works, and when he died, she became a ward of Josiah.

Overhouse Works, Burslem

Under the guidance of Josiah Wedgewood, the Phillips brothers went on to create some truly iconic pottery pieces that are still recognizable today. Their craftsmanship was highly sought after, and they exported their creations across North America. However, the association with Wedgewood is not this site's only claim to fame.

James Brindley, a pioneer canal builder

The brothers leased the site from James Brindley, adding another distinguished name to the mix. Before the Phillips brothers, Lindop and Taylor had operated a pottery business on this very spot. Unfortunately, they went out of business, paving the way for the Phillips family to leave their mark.

During its heyday, the Bottom Bridge Pottery employed nearly 500 individuals. The factory produced pottery that was both exquisite and highly regarded. However, this success was not meant to last. In 1831, tragedy struck when Edward Phillips was killed in a carriage accident. Following his untimely demise, his widow, Benedicta Wedgewood, sold her interest in the Potter to George, his surviving brother.

An example of the Phillips brother's wares

Upon taking over the business, George Phillips made some changes. He altered the marks on the back of the pottery to showcase his initials, G Phillips. Despite his efforts to continue the legacy, fate had other plans. George passed away at the young age of 45, leaving behind a pottery business that could have rivalled the fame of Wedgewood and Doulton.

With the demise of the Phillips brothers, William Davenport stepped in to take over the pottery business in the 1850s. The Potter's House, which once belonged to the Phillips family, was converted into offices. However, as time went on, the house became surplus to the requirements of the pottery.

With its newfound redundancy, the house was transformed into the Duke of Bridgewater Pub, replacing a previous inn that had occupied the site. The former pub would have been situated in what is now the beer garden of the Duke of Bridgewater. William Davenport, who ran the Bottom Factory Works located behind the house, expanded his operations to include Top Bridge Works, which specialized in teapot production and is still standing today.

Sadly, much of the factory and its iconic bottle ovens were demolished in the 1960s. However, the Duke of Bridgewater Pub survived the test of time. In 2000, Steelite acquired the site and demolished the remaining structures, but they chose to preserve the pub.

The Duke of Bridgewater in 2024

Today, it is disheartening to see the Duke of Bridgewater Pub in its dilapidated state. While Wedgewood's grand house garners attention and recognition, this lesser-known piece of pottery history is often overlooked.

The Duke of Bridgewater Pub stands as a silent witness to the rise and fall of the pottery industry in Stoke-on-Trent. Its connection to the Phillips family, the Wedgwood family and James Brindley, and the larger story of pottery in the area should not be forgotten.

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