John Aynsley

AYNSLEY, John (1823-1907), pottery manufacturer, Longton. 

See also record for Aynsley Pottery and Gerrard Aynsley (Grandson)

 

John Aynsley was born in Union Street, Longton, in 1823, the son of James Aynsley and Charlotte nee Anderson. 

His grandfather, also called John Aynsley, came to the Potteries from Northumberland, became chairman of the Fenton Park Colliery Co., and was afterwards in business as a maker of lustre ware, the first in Longton, in a factory on the site of Longton market.

The family fell into reduced circumstances during John Aynsley's childhood, for reasons which are disputed. His mother went to work as a paintress and John Aynsley, after a short education in a dame school, began work at the age of nine, for twopence a day, at John Lockett's factory. Later he was employed in three different factories at the same time, working a 16-hour day. The trade depression of 1848 forced him to seek employment in Derby and the north of England. After some time he returned to the Potteries, acquired an interest in Cooper and Co., worked for Sampson Bridgwood and eventually became the latter's partner.

In 1861 John Aynsley built the Portland works in Sutherland Road, Longton which is a late version of the classic Pottery style, with archway, Venetian window and pedimented gable. 

He was first elected to the Longton council in 1865. He served as mayor in four successive years from 1886, when he was instrumental in the creation of Longton Park, the first such park in the Potteries. The duke of Sutherland gave 45 acres of his estate in Dresden, John Aynsley donated 1,000 as well as trees and shrubs and raised funds to ensure that there was no charge on the rates during the development of the park, which was opened in 1888. 

John Aynsley also persuaded the duke of Sutherland to give land for the site of a new hospital. He used unorthodox methods of fund raising: he was offered a pig by the landlord of the Trentham Hotel on condition he drove it himself to Longton market; he completed the feat and raised a considerable sum of money in so doing, the duke of Sutherland was one of those heavily engaged in the bet. On another occasion he auctioned a donkey. The donkey died, John Aynsley calcined the bones and had a statue of a donkey made from the remains. The statue was used to collect funds for the cottage hospital for many years.

John Aynsley married Julia Gerrard at Bucknall on 27 March 1847.

A son, John Gerrard Aynsley was born in 1855.

John Aynsley died at Portland House, Blythe Bridge, on 7 February 1907.

Sources:  Apollo, vol. 38 (1943); Briggs; Staffs. Sentinel 28 October 1899; VCH viii.; Morland Bill Portrait of the Potteries.