A photo walk around
Ash Hall, Werrington Stoke-on-Trent
Job Meigh & the Ash Hall Estate
The background to the family and source of their wealth:
Job Meigh II, who bought the Ash Estate in 1837, was the son of Job Meigh I (1750-1817), who manufactured pottery on the site of Hanley Old Hall. Job Meigh II, born in 1784, married Elizabeth, daughter of William Mellor of Johnson’s Charles Street Pottery in Hanley, in 1805. Job Meigh II initially worked for his father in the Old Hall Pottery but by 1807 he had left to go into partnership with Richard Hicks, his brother-in-Law.
Richard Hicks married Lydia Meigh, daughter of Job Meigh I in 1801. In 1807 he bought a factory in Broad Street, Hanley, were he set up as a pottery manufacturer in partnership with his brother-in-Law, Job Meigh II. In 1815 they rebuilt the works in a typical rectangular courtyard plan with the kilns in a line along the rear. By 1841 it was said that the premises, standing on around three acres, consisted of “60 rooms, seven ovens, and five offices.” (Royal Commission on Children’s Employment.)
The White House fronting the works was the home of Richard Hicks while Job Meigh II lived in Bank House, Shelton (now the site of Hanley Town Hall).
The manufactory of Hicks, Meigh and Johnson
In 1820 Thomas Johnson, their travelling representative, became a partner in the firm which was henceforth known as Hicks, Meigh and Johnson.
Simeon Shaw, in his History of the Staffordshire Potteries, published in 1829, described the partners and their concern as follows: "In Shelton, is the elegant mansion of R Hicks, Esq. a gentleman who connects with sterling piety a most unbounded benevolence of disposition. Here the destitute find relief, the distressed find consolation, and the miserable, sympathy and protection. The Manufactory adjoining produces excellent porcelain and pottery, of various kinds; and is creditable to the parties of Hicks, Meigh, & Johnson. It stands on the site of that where Mr R Baddeley first made the Blue printed ware; and which subjected him and his brother to the highest censure for extravagance, in having a manufactory covered with tiles, instead of thatch; and for being the first who erected four hovels behind, instead of only two...
At the top of Albion Street is Bank House, a very handsome residence, occupied by its proprietor, Job Meigh, Esq., who is for his philanthropy and liberality justly regarded as one of the worthies of the district, to whom the inhabitants generally submit ony important subjects of reference, in confidence of having strict impartial decisions awarded them. Also is the gentleman to whom, in 1823, His Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex, presented the gold Medal of the Society of Arts, for Mr Meigh’s giving to the public a Glaze for Common Pottery, entirely free from the deleterious qualities of the usual lead glaze.”
In 1833 John Spencer one of the commissioners appointed by the Factory Inquiry Commission, visited the pottery and described its working conditions: “I examined next the factory of Hicks, Meigh & Co., at Shelton.
Six hundred hands. These works are well conducted; great order and regularity are manifest all through the establishment. The hours are fewer here than in some other works; in summer from six to six, in winter from seven to six. In other works some of the children called cutters, in attendance upon the printer, appear to me to suffer from a prolonged attendance at the factory. They are compelled to attend in the morning an hour before the printer, to light fires and prepare his apartment, and often wait in the evening for some time after the rest have departed, to prepare for the ensuing day. The cutter-girls and the plate-makers boys, are however, only a twentieth portion of the workpeople employed.”
John Spencer interviewed four of the employees.
One of them was Charles Hall, aged nine. He had been employed at the factory for six months and worked from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the summer and from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the winter. He had a break of half an hour for breakfast which consisted of tea, bread and butter, and one hour for dinner of beef and potatoes. He admitted that he was very tired at the end of the day but when asked “Do you like to go to work at the factory?’ answered “Yes.” His pay was two shillings and three pence a week and he confirmed that there were separate water closets for the boys and girls. He had formerly been to school and could read and write and now went to a Sunday school.
Another employee interviewed was Alice Berrisford, aged 17 who had been working at the factory for six years. She too had been to school, could read and write and now went to a Sunday school. She worked the same hours as Charles Hall but added that on Saturday work stopped at 4 p.m. Her pay was paid 4 shillings a week and she had a sister who was also employed at the factory.
In 1835 the partnership was dissolved and the factory and its contents were put up for auction.
The works was taken over by the partnership of Ridgway, Morley and Wear and it was Francis Morley who continued there until 1859 when the Ashworth Brothers took control. Francis Morley bought many of Charles Mason’s moulds when the latter went bankrupt in 1848, and established the factory as the producer of Mason’s famous Ironstone China, though it also continued producing earthenware. Under the Ashworths, the manufacture of both Mason’s and Meigh’s old ware was supplemented by “table, toilet, desert and other services, and ornamental goods of the best quality”.
(Jewitt, Ceramic Art, p.62-3.)
The White House was demolished after the Second World War and is now the site of the Mitchell Memorial Theatre in Broad Street.
The factory was acquired by the Waterford-Wedgwood Company, and was subsequently closed and the site cleared in 1999.