Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Burgess and Leigh

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Burgess and Leigh, of Middleport Pottery, Port Street, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire

1851 Messrs Hulme and Booth began a pottery business at the Central Pottery, in the heart of Burslem. Trading as Hulme and Booth, this pottery produced earthenware for the next 11 years.

1859 Throughout this early period of the business, purchased moulds and pattern engravings from other businesses following their closures, such as that of Samuel Alcock 1859.

1862 William Leigh and Frederick Rathbone Burgess formed a partnership and took over the running of the Central Pottery. The business name was changed to Burgess and Leigh.

1868 The business transferred to the nearby, larger Hill Pottery in Burslem. Production had increased, the range of ware continued to be mainly utility toilet, dinner and tableware.

1887 Another business of note that was acquired for its moulds was John Davenport and Son. Moulds first used by this firm and Alcocks are still used today in the production of Burleighware.

1889 The firm moved to the newly constructed Middleport Pottery, beside the Trent and Mersey Canal, a scene imagined by William Leigh. The Middleport Pottery was widely recognised as the "Model Pottery" in the Staffordshire pottery industry. It was designed to make all production processes more efficient and to improve greatly the working conditions of its workers. With its 3 biscuit and 4 glost bottle ovens, the factory was known locally as the "Seven Oven Works".

1895 Following the deaths of William Leigh in 1889 and Frederick Burgess in 1895, the business continued under their sons, Edmund Leigh and Richard Burgess.

1912 On the death of Richard Burgess the business became solely owned by the Leigh family.

1919 The business became a private limited company, the name being changed to Burgess and Leigh Ltd.

1926 Charlotte Rhead worked as a designer for Burgess and Leigh from 1926 until 1931. Harold Bennett, an established and accomplished water colour artist, produced many wonderful artworks that were applied to the tableware range. Charles Wilkes and Earnest Bailey formed an able partnership that was to produce many stunning and beautifully sculpted pieces.

Late 1920s - 1939 was an extremely productive period for the company. Prior to the outbreak of war there were around 500 workers employed at the Pottery.

1947 Advert in British Industries Fair Catalogue as Exhibiting Member of the British Pottery Manufacturers' Federation of Federation House, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. Composite Exhibit. (Pottery and Glassware Section - Olympia, Ground Floor, Stand No. A.1238) [1]

1949 The glost ovens were demolished

1965 Two of the biscuit ovens were removed, leaving one biscuit oven standing.

1999 A listed building, the pottery was rescued from the receiver by William and Rosemary Dorling, and run as a going concern as Burgess, Dorling and Leigh, or Burleigh Pottery. The Dorling family continued the Burleigh tradition of producing fine quality, pure English earthenware products using traditional process methods.

2010 Burleigh Pottery was aquired by Denby Holdings Limited, the parent company of Denby Pottery.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 1947 British Industries Fair Adverts 398 and 399; and p50
  • [1] The Potteries Website
  • Burleigh Pottery website [2]