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Report - TG Green Pottery, Church Gresley - 22/12/2009

Discussion in 'Industrial Sites' started by clebby, Dec 22, 2009.

  1. clebby

    clebby ( . Y . )
    Regular User

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    This place is awesome!

    Massive thanks to J4M35_UK for joining me. At first I thought it looked a bit small and it wouldn't live up to expectations, but it's actually deceptively large, and it takes a good few hours to get around, and that's if you don't go in every room!

    The factory as it is today began life in 1864 when Thomas Goodwin Green was, rather suprisingly, on his honeymoon in Scarborough. He met a Mr Henry Wileman who owned a small pottery in Church Gresley, near Swadlincote, that had been built in 1790. Wileman was intending on selling the pottery, and Green, who had made a lot of money running a buidling firm in Australia, purchased it in 1864. For the next 25 years he built the firm up until it had to buy more land to expand using revolutionary new methods. Eventually the business became too large for Green to run on his own so he brought it Henry William King to assist him, and from then until 1964 the business was in the hands of the Green family and the King family.

    In 1871 Green built a totally new works next to the old site as he wanted to produce white earthenware as opposed to the "rough" pottery being made. This is what makes up a large portion of the buildings on site from what I could tell. Green was an extremely self sufficient man, and dug his own brick clay, built his own brick kiln, and even sunk a small coal mine into his land to get coal to burn his home made bricks. Green died in 1902 and control of the business went to Henry William King and Roger Green, with help from King's son Percy. The outbreak of war slowed down the growth of the works, and it was not until 1924 that Cornish Kitchen Ware, which is what the works is most famous for, was produced.

    Named Cornishware because a factory empolyee said it reminded them "of the clear blues and white-tipped waves of Cornwall", the iconic blue and white striped effect was caused by the lathe-turning process. The brand was revitalised in the 1960s by a designer called Judith Onions, but the Green family and the King family sold the works in 1964 and after that it became harder and harder for the Victorian pottery to survive in the modern world. In July 2007, the company went into recievership and the works has since lain derelict.

    There is still heaps of stuff left inside; paperwork, pots, plates, jugs, teapots, thousands (and I mean thousands) of pottery moulds, kilns, machines, and even some of that iconic Cornishware. In places it looks like they literally just walked out of the door and left it. Also there is only a small ammount of trashing visible, which makes a nice change. It's mainly just natural decay inside, which is in places very impressive for a 2007 closure.

    Now lets be honest, most people don't read the history and just scroll down to the pics, so I could write what I like about you up there and you would be none the wiser. :rolleyes:

    I'm quite pleased with how the pics came out - most of them are unedited apart from a little cropping in some. A rather nice British drafting table, totally intact...

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    ...with heaps of paperwork on and around it, some dating from the 20s.

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    This was one of the better rooms, and probably the most photographed in Greens.

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    The colours are absolutely fantastic - there is the Cornish light blue and cream, but there are also ferns growing out of the wall and moss covering every surface, as well as hundreds of intact pottery moulds stacked up on the floor, as it would have been the day it closed...

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    In the same room were a few of these things, maybe some kind of dryer?

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    Some parts of the works are absolutely intact...

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    ...whereas some parts seem a bit more trashed. In a more modern building were several of these kilns, each about the size of a shipping container.

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    Employee motivation fail.

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    Another well known spot at Greens; the first aid room...

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    At this point we heard music coming from somewhere within the building. It seemed distant at first but it was definitely getting louder... very strange. After laying low for a bit we continued to a very dusty room where I think the moulds were made...

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    ...and then stored outside.

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    There are four massive bottle kilns in the centre of the old part which makes the works easily visible from a fair way away. Bottle kilns are very few and far between nowadays, and there is another one on an active pottery across the road. Seeing five at once must be very rare these days.

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    I think the bottle kilns became redundant when replaced by the more modern kilns above. But they are still intact nonetheless. This is at the base of two of them. Coal could be loaded in via the little arch...

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    ...and pottery loaded in by these doorways on the floor above.

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    Inside the bottle kiln, there is actually a dome inside the brick chimney bit that allows the kilns to heat up without getting smoke or flames inside, and these can rise up in the space between the dome and the bottle-shape. Fish eye lens ftw.

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    The distribution warehouse... yawn.

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    There was another kind of kiln downstairs; a kind of long, narrow arched tunnel with fireproof bricks on the walls. I would have taken a photo but by this time I couldn't feel my hands and you know what it looks like anyway. But I did photograph the trolleys that pots would be loaded onto and then rolled into the long oven on rails.

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    Now THAT is epicness in its raw form.

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    It's a great place and I would definitely recommend a visit to anyone.

    Cheers :)
     
    #1 clebby, Dec 22, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2009

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