Master Potters in Georgian  Burslem (1714-1837)


These pages describe a history walk around Burslem. The purpose of the walk is to look at the transformation of the town which occurred between 1714 when George I came to the throne and the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837. 

Start the walk here:

In particular the walk focuses on the role played by two families: the Wedgwood family of the Big House and the Wood family of Fountain Place, Burslem.

The map below, an extract from William Yates's Map of Staffordshire, shows the town and its vicinity in 1775.

The new turnpike roads promoted by Josiah Wedgwood and his fellow pottery manufacturers can be easily located on the map. The road north, turnpiked in 1763, ran down Westport Road to Tunstall to join the main road at the Red Bull in Lawton.

The road west to Newcastle-under-Lyme, also turnpiked in 1763, originally ran down Packhorse Lane. By 1812 it had been replaced by the present line of road and in 1828 the Turnpike Trust sold most of Packhorse Lane to Enoch Wood who incorporated it into his factory.

The road south to Hanley, turnpiked in 1765, ran down Nile Street. Its replacement, the present Waterloo Road, was not built until 1814-17.

The road east to Leek ran via Hot Lane. Moorland Road was built in 1820 to provide a more direct access to Smallthorne and the east.

The thick black line running diagonally across the map is the Trent and Mersey Canal. Begun in 1766 when Josiah Wedgwood cut the first sod at Brownhills it was nearing completion in the mid 1770s. Burslem Branch Canal was built in 1805 after a campaign led by Enoch Wood.

The Canal Company built a new road, Navigation Road, from Burslem Wharf to St John's Square, along which they ran a horse-drawn tramway to the town centre (see 1832 map). The two maps show how the town grew and developed between 1740 and 1832 as a result of the improvement in the transport system.

The 1740 map should be treated with a little caution. It probably began as a plan of the Over House Estate while it was in the ownership of Katherine Egerton. The plan was subsequently added to, from memory, at a later date in the 18th century. All the other versions of this map are re-workings of the copy produced by William Heaton in the early 19th century.


Burslem - from William Yates Map of Staffordshire 1775

Burslem - from William Yates Map of Staffordshire 1775
figures in blue are the date the road was turnpiked (toll roads to raise finances)


Start the walk here:

questions/comments/contributions? email: Steve Birks