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Staffordshire potteries

English, 17th century-present
Biography: The Staffordshire potteries refers to different manufacturers of ceramics, beginning in the seventeenth century, located within Staffordshire county, England, in the towns of Tunstall, Longport, Burslem, Cobridge, Hanley, Stoke, Fenton, Longton and Lane End (among others). The area was rich in natural resources that supported the ceramics industry: abundant clay, salt and lead for glazing, and coal to fire the kilns. The Staffordshire potteries were at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution, as ceramic production changed from a cottage-based business to a factory-based industry in the eighteenth century. In 1769, Josiah Wedgwood built one of Britain’s first large factories, in Etruria, on the outskirts of Burslem. His work, and that of other eighteenth-century Staffordshire potters, such as Joseph Spode I, Thomas Minton, the Wood family, and Thomas Whieldon, helped make the area synonymous with ceramics, especially earthenwares and stonewares. This position was confirmed when, in around 1800, Josiah Spode II, developed a fine bone china (porcelain containing bone ash) that was cheap to produce. In the early twentieth century, the various towns containing the Staffordshire potteries were united to form one larger government unit, Stoke-on-Trent (unitary authority) located within Staffordshire County. Today, Stoke-on-Trent remains at the center of the British ceramic industry. Contemporary manufacturers of ceramics located in Stoke-on-Trent include Wedgwood, Royal Doulton, Spode, Moorcroft, Portmeirion, and Johnson Tiles.