Stoke-on-Trent, North Staffordshire 


Raw Materials for the Potter 

Harrison & Son. 
A Family's 100 year History of supplying raw materials to the pottery trade

Mark John Harrison Mills


readers reviews on ...

"If you have any interest in North Staffordshire Pottery then I would recommend this book.
It tells the story of the industry by focusing on one family - the Harrison's - who supplied raw materials to the industry for over 100 years.
Well illustrated with photos and trade adverts.
It's the sort of book that you can sit and read from cover to cover but also refer back to."

"Would thoroughly recommend to everyone - really enjoyed learning more about the trade and the photos really bring it to life."



Raw Materials for the Potter - Harrison & Son

By: Mark John Harrison Mills

Publisher: Three Counties Publishing

Format: Large soft back; 143 pages; 300 x 210 mm; approximately 200 illustrations

ISBN: 978-0-9554845-8-2

Cost: 19.95 plus postage & packing 2.75 for 1 book, 2 books 5.20, 3 or more free

Available from: 

Three Counties Publishing, 
71 Haywood Street, 
Leek, Staffordshire, 
ST13 5JH, 

tel: 01538 384482; 

cheques to Three Counties Publishing (Books) Ltd.

Also from bookshops in Leek and Hanley including Webberly's Bookshop, Percy Street, Hanley and the Potteries Museum. 



The Book:

Review from The Northern Ceramic Society - March 2014 Newsletter.....


"This profusely illustrated book will appeal to a very wide range of readers. Not only does it deal with the source and preparation of the many raw materials required by pottery manufacturers in the 19th and 20th centuries, it has a wealth of information on working conditions in the Potteries during that period.

The book is divided into three portions; 

the first of which deals at length with the history of the Harrison family beginning with the founder, William Richard Harrison, who started business in Lincolnshire as a wholesale chemist and how he came to migrate to Hanley to buy a colour and glaze making factory. Harrison and his son, Thomas William, who provide the title for this book, established an increasingly successful business procuring, preparing and supplying materials to the local potteries which didn't have their own in-house material processing facilities. 

This part of the book is also of interest to those family historians with roots in the Potteries as the large Harrison family became integrated into local affairs by way of marriage, business mergers and the public works of Harrison senior. Many early postcards and photographs are illustrated and anyone with local knowledge will be fascinated by the illustrations of buildings, streets and canal scenes which are now gone for ever.

In 1893 Harrison and Son had a stand at the World Columbian Exposition which launched them into the international market with the result that members of the family emigrated to the USA and Australia in order to promote the business. The outbreak of the First World War resulted in the same restrictions and staffing difficulties in the pottery industry that were experienced throughout the country as a whole but the story of the business and family continues throughout the first half of the 20th century until the firm was acquired by Goodlass, Wall & Lead Industries in 1963.

The second section of the book is devoted to recording the memories of employees of Harrison & Son during the 1950s and 60s. Many of these memories illustrate the difference in working conditions between the middle of the 20th century and today.

The health and safety at work issues were certainly much more lax at that time but the paternalistic benefits enjoyed by those working for a family business contrast strongly with those who now work for faceless companies. 

The jobs that are recalled were very varied and spread between the various sites owned by Harrison and Son but provided a great opportunity to retrain for those returning to civilian life after the Second World War.

The last section concentrates on the products of the various factories beginning with the types of raw materials which were processed. These range from the different types of rock which are ground for inclusion in the pottery body to the various types of naturally occurring silica which are required for glaze recipes. The reason for calcining then crushing flint is also well explained without getting too technical and a fourth section is devoted to milling. The process of preparing frit and glazes is also covered in this last section but the accompanying illustrations are so self-explanatory that the processes are easy to follow.

In conclusion this book is interesting on many levels and should not be judged solely on the title 'Raw Materials for the Potter'. Instead it provides an overview of the enterprise and opportunities which were available to entrepreneurs during a time of technical improvements and expansion in the Potteries."

The Author:

Mark John Harrison Mills joined the family business of Harrison & Son (Hanley) Ltd in 1962. 
For many years he was manager of the Joiners Square factory in Hanley, from 1973 moved to setting up and developing a new factory in Italy. Later returning to the Meir Works.
By now Harrison's were part of the Cookson Group and Mark was given a corporate role as Group Energy Advisor until he retired in 1997. 



Harrison's Phoenix Chemical Works - Bath Street, Hanley


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1908 The Pottery Gazette