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Swinton Pottery (The Rockingham Works), 310m and 120m north west of Keeper's Cottage

A Scheduled Monument in Wath, Rotherham

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Latitude: 53.4844 / 53°29'3"N

Longitude: -1.3371 / 1°20'13"W

OS Eastings: 444087.22819

OS Northings: 398830.774802

OS Grid: SK440988

Mapcode National: GBR MX34.BP

Mapcode Global: WHDD5.FPJ5

Entry Name: Swinton Pottery (The Rockingham Works), 310m and 120m north west of Keeper's Cottage

Scheduled Date: 10 January 2000

Last Amended: 9 May 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020067

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29957

County: Rotherham

Electoral Ward/Division: Wath

Built-Up Area: Wath upon Dearne

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): South Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Swinton St Margaret

Church of England Diocese: Sheffield


The monument lies on the western edge of Swinton town and occupies land to
the north and south of Blackamoor Road, in two areas of protection. It
includes standing, buried and earthwork remains of a post-medieval pottery
complex which was originally known as Swinton Pottery and later as The
Rockingham Works.

Swinton Pottery was a small concern using locally available clay and coal to
make brick, tile and coarse domestic earthenware pottery. The first recorded
owner is Joseph Flint, who in the 1740s paid rent to the first Marquis of
Rockingham for digging clay and renting a brickworks, tileyard and pot
house. The works steadily expanded under subsequent owners, including
William Malpass whose activities in the region included coal mining, lime
burning and glass making as well as pottery production. A map of around 1776
shows his landholdings extending to the east and west of the pottery which,
together with the Earl's lands and Swinton Common, took in a range of
resources such as clay, coal, the farm and farmlands, woods, streams and
willow garths.

In 1785 a major change took place when the then partners Bingley Wood and
Co went into partnership with the large and important Leeds Pottery. The two
concerns were run as one, trading as Greens, Bingley and Co but this
partnership was dissolved in 1806 and the pottery was taken over by the
Brameld family. The Brameld family extended the range of earthenwares and
added buildings to the complex, including workers' cottages and a flint mill
(in which calcined flint was ground before being added to the clay to add
strength and body to it). Experiments in porcelain production began about
1820 but this together with unsuccessful foreign trading and other factors led
to bankruptcy in 1825. The pottery was rescued by the landlord, Earl
Fitzwilliam, and was renamed The Rockingham Works in 1826. The pottery then
began the manufacture of fine and elaborately decorated porcelain. Porcelains
made at the Rockingham works became internationally renowned, particularly the
dessert service made for William IV, which is still displayed on state
occasions. The works finally closed in 1842.

The monument survives as a series of standing, buried and earthwork remains.
Features surviving above ground from the later pottery works include: one
bottle kiln (used for firing or glazing) which is a Listed Building Grade II*,
a gatehouse (originally one of a pair), Strawberry Cottage (originally part of
the printshop range of work buildings). A series of ponds, which provided the
large quantities of water required by the pottery, survive surrounded and
contained by clay and earthen embankments. The second gatehouse and the
flintmill were demolished early in the 20th century and Flintmill Farm, which
was situated approximately 200m to the south west of Strawberry Cottage, was
demolished in the late 1970s. On the site of the farm sections of walling two
or three courses high survive above the ground surface. Earthworks indicate
the sites of other buildings and features within the complex and serve to show
the level of survival beneath the ground surface.

The site of the early 18th century pottery works is uncertain but is thought
to lie in the general area later occupied by the pottery. Early 19th century
engravings and 18th and 19th century maps show the layout and development of
the later pottery buildings. From these it is clear that Strawberry Cottage
was originally part of a range of workshops and warehouses which were arranged
around a courtyard. The attached and associated buildings extended to the
north, east and west, with Strawberry Cottage forming part of the southern
range. The surviving kiln now sits in relative isolation, approximately 55m
north west of Strawberry Cottage, but a map of 1849 indicates that both
buildings were integral parts of the courtyard. Earthworks to the west and
north west of Strawberry Cottage indicate that remains of the interlinking
buildings do survive beneath the ground surface. Parts of the original cobbled
yard and building foundations have been revealed during building work in the
vicinity of Strawberry Cottage and are believed to survive in other areas of
the complex. Part of the original pottery boundary wall, built to provide
security and deter theft, also survives to the east of the access drive to
Strawberry Cottage. The small section of the revetted wall is illustrated in
its entirety on an engraving dated 1827.

Flintmill Farm is first mentioned in 1806 but is thought to have been part of
the concern from the late 18th century. It served as a working farm, providing
stabling for draught horses and including willow garths and plantations of
crate wood. These latter provided materials to make willow baskets and wooden
casks into which wares were placed, packed in straw ready for transportation.

To the north of the surviving gatehouse are areas of former open quarrying
for coals and clays associated with the Swinton Pottery Coal Seam, which out-
cropped here in a seam about 1 foot thick along a roughly east-west line just
north of the pottery works. Clays in the area were suitable for brick, tile
and pottery; there is reference in the records to red, yellow and white clays,
fireclay and a fine pipeclay.

The quarrying on the north side of the pottery site is represented by an
elongated former pit stretching from the gatehouse north to Warren Vale Road,
with steep terraces extending to the east, along the south side of Warren Vale
Road, where it is largely occupied by late 20th century houses and gardens.
That part of the former pit and terrace surviving as an open grassed area
forming part of the local authority's Pottery Ponds amenity area is included
in the scheduling. The former pit, partly infilled at the northern end,
carries the main northern access road into the pottery via the gatehouse, and
incorporates the site of a limekiln shown on the 1850 Ordnance Survey map. The
limekiln was probably used either for production of mortar for use on the
pottery buildings, or for manufacturing Plaster of Paris for pottery moulds;
raw limestone or gypsum would have been shipped into the area for burning here
near the fuel supply.

To the south of this quarry, and to the west of the large pond and the late
18th-19th century pottery buildings, is a shallow valley stretching towards
Flintmill Farm, containing a series of marshy depressions and ponds. These
hollows and ponds, some or all of which probably originated as claypits, have
been adapted to provide a water supply for the pottery and farm. From the
north, in the area below the limekiln quarry and west of the large pond, is a
series of three shallow silted pits or ponds - now mostly reedbeds but with
standing water in places - separated by low banks or level areas of higher
ground. The northernmost one has a clearly defined rectangular north west
corner cut into the slope. A drain cut from these leads to a rectangular
excavated `reservoir' pond, still water-filled, with clearly defined sides and
a banked dam across its lower, southern, end, beyond which are two further
silted ponds. To the north east of the rectangular pond is a roughly circular
platform, about 20m across, standing above the marshy ground. These water
management features and other prominent earthworks to the south, towards
Flintmill Farm, indicate the survival of structural remains beneath the ground
surface. The valley area is also thought to be the site of the willow garths
mentioned in early 19th century documents, which supplied osiers to make
baskets for transporting finished goods.

It seems clear that the larger embanked ponds to the east were added later to
supply the later larger pottery works. They lie on the clays near the exposed
coal seam, in an area which would have been occupied by quarrying activity in
the early days and, like the other ponds, may have originated as claypits.

Along the boundary down the east side of the northern section of the valley,
from the west side of the gatehouse to the west side of the Waterloo Kiln, is
an embanked track, with drystone revetting visible in places on its west side,
and a series of mature trees representing the remnants of an avenue. Known
locally as The Old Coach Road (recorded by Dr A Cox), this formed part of the
road shown on the Enclosure Award Plan of 1816 as running from Fox Lands Hill
beside Warren Vale Road in the north, southwards between the pottery works and
the farm (later Flintmill Farm) to Blackamoor Road. Its line is perpetuated by
garden and field boundaries. The Enclosure Plan shows that the road was
allocated to Earl Fitzwilliam and, presumably, as such, it could be readily
incorporated by him into the pottery site. The earl was closely involved with
the development of the works, including financing new building around the time
of Enclosure. At Enclosure he seems to have consolidated his holdings here to
include all the land in and around the pottery site. The road appears to have
fallen out of use, or was deliberately diverted, due to the pottery interests
here, and was incorporated into the site.

In the field to the east of Strawberry Cottage, earthworks survive up to 1m
in height, although the majority are approximately 0.5m high. A platform to
the south of the easternmost pottery pond, and a second abutting the eastern
field boundary, show the positions of more structures and can be correlated
with pottery buildings shown on late 18th and early 19th century maps. Further
east, in the garden of 13 Woodman Drive, buried structural remains are
indicated by crop marks, earthworks incorporated into the flower beds, and
artefacts recovered from the garden.

To the east of the pottery site, on the other side of Blackamoor Road, in the
angle formed by that road, Warren Vale Road to the east, and a footpath to the
south, is a triangular quarry or pit, occupied now by Three Corner Plantation.
Geological and historical information indicates the area was a claypit,
probably dug in the 18th/early 19th century, in association with the pottery,
and was subsequently used by the pottery as a store of raw materials,
including calcined flint (which is represented by extensive dumps of calcined
flint flakes ready for grinding in the flint mill), and dumps of pottery waste
(eg on the roadside nearest to the pottery along Blackamoor Road), which
include fragments of broken pottery, saggers, moulds, ashes, pieces of gypsum,
coal, sandstone etc., probably dumped in readiness for disposal for road
building or landfill.

Accounts of Surveyors of the Highways dating from 1780, indicate that waste
from Swinton Pottery was not generally tipped on or near the site as was
customary elsewhere. Instead it was sold for the repair of the local roads.
This would explain the relatively few waster sherds (fragments of pottery from
wares that have distorted during the firing process) recovered during the
small scale excavations and limited fieldwork which have been carried out on
and around the site. However, the sherds that have been recovered have been
instrumental in the understanding of the wares produced at Swinton. Between
1745 and 1806 wares did not generally bear makers' marks and were therefore
difficult to assign to a particular pottery, but by comparing intact wares
with sherds recovered from the site, a typology is emerging. During most of
the pottery's existence the proprietors supplied wares to their landlords at
nearby Wentworth House. Many of the invoices detailing these wares have
survived and provide a unique opportunity in the study of ceramics to relate
sherds, invoices and intact wares.

Strawberry Cottage, its associated garage and stables, the gatehouse and
garden sheds, all modern fences, track surfaces and hardstandings are
excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Wheel thrown pottery has been made in Britain since at least the Roman
period. Potteries were usually located in close proximity to raw material
sources, primarily good quality clay, but also fuel for firing the kilns and
water. Products were varied but were dominated by a wide variety of domestic
items. During the Roman and medieval periods the industry was largely rural
and regionally based. It was only in the 17th century that the industry began
to concentrate in fewer areas, particularly in the north Midlands (which had
good clay and wood sources), as new patterns of distribution and marketing
began to take effect. The later post-medieval pottery industry underwent major
changes during the 18th century, stimulated generally by the needs of a
growing market and particularly the new fashion for tea and coffee drinking
which demanded high quality table wares. Technical experimentation and
entrepreneurial flare provided the driving force for an unprecedented increase
in both the volume and quality of production, accompanied by a growth in
mechanisation and organisational sophistication. The later post-medieval
pottery industry owes much of its character and development to four main
influences; the introduction of tin-glazed earthenware (`delftware') in the
later 16th/early 17th century; the development of German-inspired salt-glazed
stoneware in the later 17th century, and in the 18th century, the perfection
of affordable quality earthenware in Staffordshire and the discovery of the
secret of porcelain manufacture. Potteries included a range of buildings in
which raw materials were stored, processed, turned into pots, fired, decorated
and glazed, and then packed for transportation to market. A good controlled
water supply was essential for many of the processes of manufacture.

Swinton is significant as a survival of a fully integrated pottery works
incorporating the remains of evidence for the exploitation, storage and
processing of raw materials for pottery production, the production of the
pottery itself, and for the packing and transportation of materials and
finished products. It is also one of the few places in the country
representing the development from coarse earthenwares for the local market,
to fine pottery and porcelain for export. In fact its origins in the mid-18th
century were as part of a concern which produced bricks and tiles, so it
spans an even wider range of clay products, making it almost certainly unique.

The standing, buried and earthwork remains, sherds from the site, intact
wares, invoices, maps and other documentary sources combine to provide an
unusually complete picture of the pottery and its wares. Rockingham porcelain
was renowned and, taken as a whole, Swinton Pottery will greatly enhance our
understanding of the pottery industry, and the social and economic position
the works held in the wider, post-medieval, industrial landscape.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Cox, A, Cox, A, Rockingham Pottery and Porcelain 1745-1842, (1983), 1-254
Cox, A, Cox, A, 'Transactions of the English Ceramic Circle' in Recent excavations at the Swinton Pottery: White slatglazed ston, , Vol. 11, 3, (1983), 232-254
Cox, A, Cox, A, 'Journal of the Northern Ceramic Society' in The Closure Of Rockingham Works. Pt 1 New Documents Relating To, , Vol. 12, (1995), 93-150
Cox, A, Lockett, T, 'The Connoisseur' in The Rockingham Pottery, 1745-1842, a preliminary excavation, , Vol. March, (1970), 171-176
Cox, A, Cox, A, 'Transactions of the English Ceramic Circle' in Recent excavations at the Swinton Pottery: The Leeds Connection, , Vol. 11, 1, (1981), 50-69

Source: Historic England

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