Alfred Clough and the Last Bottle Oven Firing

In October 1978, Alfred Clough, the Fireman responsible for the firing, presented a lecture about the event to the British Ceramic Society. An audio record was made of the talk. This has lain dormant for almost 40 years. But now it has been edited, and together with still images of the Last Bottle Oven Firing, this 20 minute movie has been created.

The complete audio recording of the lecture and Q&A session is available here>

The Last Bottle Oven Firing - Official Video 1978 - "Potbank" 

The Last Bottle Oven Firing was recorded on film by University Of Aston in Birmingham.

The film documents the last bottle oven firing at the Hudson and Middleton Works, Longton, organised by Gladstone Pottery Museum. Written and directed by Jennifer Tann. Duration: 31mins

The film begins with a brief introduction to The Potteries and a short history of the growth in pottery manufacture in the area. The composition and layout of potbanks is also described. A sequence shows the exterior of the Gladstone Pottery Museum and moves on to look at a modern pottery factory and then there is a sequence showing the older pottery making methods. This is followed by a demonstration of the making of a saggar; a fireclay box used to hold the pottery in the oven. Next there are scenes of people using various techniques to decorate pottery. After this the pottery is placed in a specific way in the saggars. placers then carry the saggars on their heads into the oven where they are stacked in bungs. The commentary  gives a detailed description of the anatomy of the bottle oven and also the way in which the ovens were kindled, baited and the temperatures controlled. The final scenes show the oven being unloaded.

The full film is not available on YouTube.  Copies of the full film are lodged with various organisations:



History of Hudson and Middleton, Sutherland Works, Longton

Hudson and Middleton's Factory, Longton, Stoke on Trent  was the site of The Last Bottle Oven Firing in 1978. This is a marketing film from 2014. See the history and processes of Hudsons of England, manufacturers of 100% British handmade fine bone china mugs since 1875.
Published on 11 Nov 2014

The sound of the Final Firing 1978

Ever wondered what a potter's bottle oven sounds like when it reaches 1000°C?  Here is a short sound-bite from The Last Bottle Oven Firing on Wednesday morning 30 August 1978.

The oven was kindled on 29 August and the fireman responsible for it was master potter Alfred Clough. The local evening paper (The Evening Sentinel) described as 'AMONG THE CITY'S MOST SIGNIFICANT EVENTS.'

This brief sound record was made early on Wednesday morning using a very simple cassette recorder positioned on a viewing platform adjacent to the oven's crown. The sound was created by the fast flowing updraught of hot gases from the ovens eight firemouths.