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Report - Enson Works & a History of Bottle Kilns, Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, April 2011

Discussion in 'Industrial Sites' started by layz, Apr 11, 2011.

  1. layz

    layz Conquistador d'Wolverton
    28DL Full Member

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    Hey Guys,

    The last report I'll post tonight I promise ;)


    History

    The Enson works started as a muffle kiln for the production of enamels, and were part of the larger works along Chelson Street. In 1919 the works was placed into separate ownership and three additional bottle kilns were constructed in order to make the new works commercially viable. The works were occupied by Stevenson, Spencer & Co Ltd between 1948 and 1960 later being occupied by Ashdale Pottery who closed the works in 1992.


    Introduction

    The site is currently being cleared, and the former ‘American’ hotel on the corner of the street has already been moved brick by brick. The four kilns are Grade II listed, and are prime examples of the hundreds of bottle kilns which used to characterise the town of Longton. In fact there were so many kilns in Longton that it was said to be a good day when you could see the opposite side of the street, and that when the kilns were firing it was impossible to see your hand in front of your face.

    The famous bottle shaped kilns, are essentially two structures. The outer part is known as a hovel, and the inner part is bell-jar shaped and is the kiln proper. The doorway into the kiln is known as a wicket, and is large enough for a man balancing a saggar (a fireclay box containing ware to be kilned) on his head. A full saggar would weigh half a hundred weight (25Kg) so potters tended to place plenty of padding in their flat-caps to avoid discomfort. Fires were lit at the base around the edges in a number of fire mouths, which vented into the inner kiln, and exhausted out the top.

    Wares required two firings, a primary ‘Biscuit’ firing lasting three days, and a secondary ‘Glost’ firing lasing two days. Each firing would reach over 1000C and consume 15 tonnes of coal and over half the heat would escape out the top of the bottle kiln. Wares were meant to be left for 48hours to cool, however demand was high in the early days so often kilns would be emptied after only 24hours and the men would endeavour to protect themselves from the immense heat by wearing additional layers of coats, jackets and other garments wrapped around all exposed areas of their bodies.




    Longton on a good day
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    4 - The wicket, large enough for a man carrying a saggar on his head.
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    5 - Firemouths where the fire was let
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    6 - smaller chimneys or 'bags' which heated the kiln
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    Placing of the saggars in a kiln
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    Historic images taken from Notes on a History of Stoke-on-Trent

    Regards,
     
    #1 layz, Apr 11, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2011

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