Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Doulton & Co.

This post arose from Kris contacting me asking for info on bricks made by Doulton & Co. Much has been written about Doulton's salt-glazed pipes, bottles, jars & chinaware etc, but very little about the making of their bricks. So with some information previously found & with digging a little deeper into the web, I have now been able to put this post together.

I first start with a little bit of background information on how Doulton & Co. began. If you wish to read a more detailed account of the company I have pasted six links at the end of the post.

John Doulton established the beginnings of the Doulton empire in 1815 when together with his life savings of £100 pounds he became a partner in a pottery owned by Martha Jones & John Watts situated on Vauxhall Walk, London & this partnership operated under the style of Jones, Watts & Doulton producing stoneware, stoneware bottles & salt glazed sewer pipes. Mrs Jones left the company in 1820 & the company continued as Doulton & Watts. 1826 sees the move to High Street, Lambeth & by 1834 the company was employing 12 men & operating 2 kilns per week. There is as yet no reference to the company making bricks in the information found for Lambeth, but the option of them doing so cannot be ruled out. An air brick made at Lambeth can be seen at this link. & scroll down to Doulton Lambeth.

Five of John's six sons join him at the works, with his eldest John junior & second son Henry being the main players in the running of the Company at a later date. Henry joins as an apprentice in 1835 & it was to be Henry who would be the driving force at a later date in taking the company forward in producing artistic pottery, commemorative & ornamental table ware as well as being the head of the company.

In 1846 & while still having some connection in helping to run his father's company Doulton & Watts, Henry sees the potential in exploiting the extra need to produce salt-glazed sanitary pipes & wares to replace London's crumbling sewers & in doing so forms his own company on land which was to become Albert Embankment to produce these salt-glazed wares.

Further expansion by Doulton & Watts under the guidance of Henry Doulton saw the opening of new works in Rowley Regis in 1849, St. Helens run by his elder brother John junior also in 1849 & Smethwick in 1850 to produce salt-glazed pipes & associated wares. Industrial stoneware & ceramics & terracotta tiles were also made at Rowley Regis. The Smethwick works only ever produced salt glazed pipes & from a web article the Brasshouse Lane (now Pottery Lane) works was on the north bank of the Birmingham Canal & closed in 1919, but I have a trade directory entry still listing this works in 1921. 

Back to 1853 & John Watts retires from D & W & the company changed it's name to Doulton & Co. At some unknown point in time the three business of Doulton & Watts (Lambeth, Rowley Regis & Smethwick works), John Doulton junior's St. Helens works & Henry Doulton's Albert Embankment pipeworks all came together & trade as one company, Doulton & Co. Ltd.

It is now that we find in trade directories starting in 1872 that blue bricks are recorded as being made in Rowley Regis. A 1876 advert records Staffordshire blue bricks are for sale from the St. Helens works & then in a 1895 trade directory entry for the St. Helens works it lists that red / blue / ornamental & glazed bricks plus tiles are made, again I believe the blue bricks were being made at Rowley Regis because the type of clay needed to make blue bricks is chiefly found in the West Midlands. I have to note that bricks may have been made at Rowley Regis & St. Helens before the dates found, if so the new dates will be added to the post at a later date.

Photo by Frank Lawson. 

Three examples of blue bricks made at the Rowley Regis works near Dudley. The Doulton one may have been made during the time when John senior was running the company & the H. Doulton ones when Henry was in charge. 

Photo taken at the Bursledon Brick Museum. 

Photo by Frank Lawson

Photo taken at the Black Country Living Museum. 

Trade directory entries in the brick & tile makers section for the Rowley Regis works all record blue in brackets for blue bricks, but there are various names used for the name of the works & there was a company name change in 1908. 
So theses are listings :-
Kelly's 1872 & 76 - Henry Doulton & Co. Knowle Pottery, Rowley Regis & at Smethwick (pipes). 
Kelly's 1880 edition has the addition of - & Birmingham & chief office Lambeth Pottery, London SE.
Kelly's 1884 to 1904 editions - Henry Doulton & Co. Birmingham Pottery, Rowley Regis & at Smethwick & Birmingham, chief office, Lambeth Pottery, London SE.
Kelly's 1908 - Doulton & Co. Ltd, Birmingham Pottery, Rowley Regis & Granville Wharf, Granville Street, Birmingham, chief office, Royal Doulton Pottery, London SE.
Kelly's 1912 - Doulton & Co. Ltd, Rowley Regis Pottery, Springfield, Dudley; Granville Wharf, Granville Street & Paradise Street, Birmingham; chief office, Royal Doulton Pottery, London SE.
Kelly's 1916 - Doulton & Co. Ltd, Rowley Regis Pottery, Springfield Pottery, Dudley & Granville Street, Birmingham; chief office, Royal Doulton Pottery, London SE.
Kelly's 1921 -  Doulton & Co. Ltd, Springfield, Dudley & Smethwick & Granville Wharf, Granville Street, Birmingham; chief office, Royal Doulton Pottery, London SE.

There are no more trade directory entries in the Brick & Tile Makers section after 1921 for the company. 

So the names of Knowle Pottery, Birmingham Pottery, Rowley Regis Pottery & Springfield Pottery have been used to describe this vast works complex. As you will see from the several maps that I have used below, the 1881 map shows that there were originally two brick works on this site, one was at the side of Springfield Colliery & the other one was next to the pipe works & this part of the site is shown as the Birmingham Pottery. From the 1901 map it only shows one brickworks in operation. From different web articles the consensus on the name of the works where blue bricks & terracotta tiles were made is Springfield Brick & Tile Works. The different departments on this vast site made use of the Dudley No.2 Canal to bring clay in & transport their finished produces out with the Company having it's own wharfs. Although these maps show many clay pits, clay was also brought in to the works by barge using the canal from the Company's own clay pits near Saltwells Wood, Netherton to produce sanitary ware in 1906. The canal continued to be used via the Lappel Tunnel by the company until 1917 when stretches of the canal became unnavigable. The canal was finally abandoned in 1953, but today it is in the process of slowly being restored.
In the link which I have pasted below there are six photos of the Springfield Works in 1915 - just click on view gallery.

This link gives an excellent account of some of Doulton's employees working at the Springfield Works. Just to note that this site contains many adverts, so make sure your mouse pointer does not hover over any of them as they then open up the advert over the text. It is a safe site, you just have to watch out for those pesky adverts. 

I have used the following 4 maps to show how the works changed between 1881 & 1938 & the maps show the various names for the works. I have to note that the areas which I have coloured yellow may not be exact to the land owned by the Company & have been coloured only to indicate the size of this vast works complex.

 © Crown Copyright. Reproduced with permission of NLS/Ordnance Survey 1881.

 © Crown Copyright. Reproduced with permission of NLS/Ordnance Survey 1901.

 © Crown Copyright. Reproduced with permission of NLS/Ordnance Survey 1914.

 © Crown Copyright. Reproduced with permission of NLS/Ordnance Survey 1938.

Doulton's Rowley Regis Works had closed by 1979 & today this vast site is a mixture of housing & industrial units.

I now move on to the St. Helens works & my first reference in 1853 comes from Grace's Guide which records John Doulton junior as setting up the Liverpool Pottery at St. Helens on Boundary Road, producing earthenware & with offices at 70 Soho Street, Liverpool.
1867 sees John junior together his brothers Henry & John Duneau Doulton purchase lands in Windle, Lancs. from David Gamble. Then further lands where purchased in 1874 & 1879 in St. Helens. The acquisition of these lands I believe was to supplement the works with clay as this works was in a built up area & the site could not be expanded. I then take it that the clay was then delivered to the works via the railway with the company having it's own railway siding. See maps below. The advantage of the works location being in an built up area was it's workers would have lived close by.
My first trade directory entry for John junior, Brothers & Co. is in Worrall's 1871 edition, but it is not for bricks, but it is for glazed stoneware pipes & terracotta chimney pots at the Liverpool Pottery with offices/depot now at 100 Soho Street & a wharf at Canal Bank.

Then my next reference comes in the form of an advert dated 1876 shown below again from Worrall's directory & it advertises Staffordshire blue bricks made at the company's Rowley Regis Works.

My first listing of bricks being made at St. Helens is recored in Slater's 1883 edition as Doulton & Co. branch offices & depot, 100 Soho Street - Red pressed & moulded bricks for shipment from Liverpool, Garston or Widnes. Then in an entry on another page under Brick Manufacturers - Blue, is Doulton & Co. depot 100 Soho Street, Liverpool, works Rowley Regis, Staffordshire. Thus backing up my theory that Rowley Regis made the company's blue bricks & St. Helens works produced the red bricks.

In the Brick Manufacturers section of Slater's 1895 edition it lists Doulton & Co. (pressed, plain, ornamental red & blue : glazed bricks, tiles & c. Boundary Road Brickworks, St Helens. (previously recorded as The Liverpool Pottery in the advert). Again the blue brick reference I believe is that they can supply blue bricks from the St. Helens works. Then in an entry on another page in Slater's 1895 edition, Doulton & Co are listed as brick, glazed stoneware, sanitary pipe & c. manufacturers, Canal Bank west & Boundary Road, St. Helens.  

A red brick variation photographed at Cawarden Reclamation, Rugeley.

The brick above was found on Crosby beach & like the rest of the bricks which can be seen on this beach are well worn by the tide coming in & out.

Two maps dated 1900 & 1925 showing the location of the Boundary Road brickworks in St. Helens. The 1925 map actually records the brick & pipe works as Liverpool Pottery same as the 1876 advert. As previously written, with the location of the works being in a built up area, I believe the clay was brought in by railway wagons right into the works via it's own railway siding.

 © Crown Copyright. Reproduced with permission of NLS/Ordnance Survey 1900.

 © Crown Copyright. Reproduced with permission of NLS/Ordnance Survey 1925.

The year the St. Helens works closed is unknown, but could have been in 1969 when Doulton's sold it's pipe interests to Hepworth Pipe, but it may have been earlier. If I do find out, I will update the post.

Sir Henry Doulton's Surrey home, built in 1885 with bricks & terra cotta made at the Lambeth works.

Links to more information about the many sides of the Doulton empire (except it's bricks).

Photos of Doulton's Lambeth Works & showroom.

I wish to thank the following people for the use of their information & maps in bringing this story of the Doulton Company to the web.

Grace's Guide. 

Black Country Bugle.


Vauxhall Society

Dalton Databank

National Library of Scotland & Ordnance Survey - maps.


  1. Hola Soi español y tengo un ladrillo de HDOULTON & C de los azules creo que es 1812

  2. Hi I'm Spanish and I have a brick of DOULTON & C of the blues I think it's 1812

    Hello Unknown, I don't think your brick could have been made in 1812. First John Doulton did not start his pottery business until 1815. Second, bricks were not made with company names until 1855 & third, the first record that I have for Doulton & Co. producing bricks is 1872. So I think your brick will have been made between 1872 & 1920. Thanks for your interest in Doulton & Co.

    Hola, Desconocido, no creo que su ladrillo pudiera haberse hecho en 1812. Primero John Doulton no inició su negocio de cerámica hasta 1815. Segundo, los ladrillos no se hicieron con nombres de compañías hasta 1855 y en tercer lugar, el primer registro que tengo para Doulton & Co. produce ladrillos es 1872. Así que creo que tu ladrillo se habrá hecho entre 1872 y 1920. Gracias por tu interés en Doulton & Co.

  3. Hi , I found you while researching Messers Doulton & Co Ltd of St Helens I have just acquired some very large plans for what I thought was a fireclay mine there were two bands of fireclay both 6 foot thick with a 2 foot seam of coal & a band of blue shale in between , one plan is from 1911 to 1916 & the other from 1920 to 1941 the lease they bought was huge , but my plans only show a small amount of their extraction, the land was leased of Colonel W Lee Pilkington, I could send you pictures if interested ?

    1. Hello Andy, Please do send some photos & info on the location of the mine & I will add them to the post with a credit to you. As I have wrote, I knew they were bringing clay into the works, but not from where. Martyn
      Please send to (replace AT with @ symbol) Thanks


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