The Potteries Connection


John Aynsley (II) looked  to his children to continue the business. However we have discovered that John Aynsley (II) wealth placed him an ideal position to buy up failing works and turn them back to fortune.

The Aynsley family dating back to 1770 worked for other famous potteries before establishing their own.

We know that John Aynsley (I) worked for other potters or may have sub contracted their work to John. It was not until 1788 that John established his own business at Lane End (Longton) he was 36 years old. The big question is what was he doing from the year of his arrival in 1770 till 1788. That covers 18 years if we look to the trade publisher directories from 1781 there are only six potters in Lane End. If we study these potters which ones would John pick.


Robert Garner:

1750 John Barker, one of Thomas Whieldon’s ovenmen in 1749, began to make shining black ware and salt-glazed stone-ware at the Row Houses near the Foley. He worked in partnership with this brothers and with Robert Garner, who had been one of Whieldon’s apprentices. He later also made cream-coloured ware.

Richard Myatt 1781 to 1798

Thomas Philips 1781 to 1783



Thomas Shelley 1746 – 1798 (Died aged 52)

Michael Shelley 1744 – 1788 (Died aged 44)

The Brothers bought some land at Lane End (this area later became Longton). They set up two separate businesses which were successful and developed a thriving trade producing plates and dishes.
Josiah Wedgewood of Etruria was known to be a customer.
When Michael died in 1788, his business was sold, but after two years, Thomas bought it back and ran both businesses. Both businesses thrived and Thomas became an important figure in Lane End, he was a churchwarden, trustee of rebuilding the church and was also a member of the Committee of Commerce for the Potteries. He owned a large farm nearby. On his death in 1798, the works were sold.

The  following account was taken from web address

The Gladstone Pottery Museum is situated on Uttoxeter Road, Longton. Thomas and Michael Shelley produced ware on part of this site in the late 1700’s.

Peter Becket book ‘A Victorian Pottery -2’ claims Thomas & Michael were using Gladstone China Museum location.

The Allbut’s directory 1802 claims with a map that Thomas Shelley was on the right half way up Anchor Road.

If the two Shelly businesses operated from two different locations Gladstone and Anchor Road this makes sense.


John Turner – John Turner was producing ware to challenge the excellence of Wedgwood. Longton was evolving and people with vision and a healthy competitive nature were in the driving seat.1750 John Barker, one of Thomas Whieldon’s ovenmen in 1749, began to make shining black ware and salt-glazed stone-ware at the Row Houses near the Foley. He worked in partnership with this brothers and with Robert Garner, who had been one of Whieldon’s apprentices. He later he also made cream-coloured ware.

Therefore these were the only potters in Lane End remember John was not only a qualified painter/engraver these potters needed skilled workers and so John would have been snapped up.

For now the answer has not been established who John worked or was sub contracted. John Turner was more likely but with further research we may find answers. The safest option is to believe he worked or was sub-contracted by all of them. Maybe if we look at their products they produced could give us clues also how successful they were after John’s arrival.

In 1738 Longton/Lane End had a population of 500 by 1780 the population was 2500. This highlights Longton’s boom as it influenced the Industrial Revolution within the Potteries of North Staffordshire when compared to pre-industrialization figures.

John Turner was established as a master potter in every type of available ware but was also being noticed for his innovative introduction of previously unknown products. The earliest record of his work is an earthenware teapot dated 1762. Elaborately designed and decorated to depict a young Lord Trentham with his collection of French Dolls, it laid down the challenge that epitomized the quality and imagination that lifted Longton to the top league of Potteries producers.

He was also a noted producer of the finest black basalt pieces. Known locally as ‘Egyptian Black’, only Wedgwood came close to competing with Turner though his ware is rated below Turner’s. This is significant praise as Wedgwood improved Egyptian Black for his own ware and produced high quality samples.


  1. Who employed John Aynsley (I) to decorate their pottery
  2. One of them employed him
  3. Some of them employed him

Which do you think John would have chosen?

Turner died in 1787  John had established himself by 1788 Turners went bankrupt in 1806 however William John’s son continued until sold 1829.

Turner was famous for this

Beer Jug

Was John’s skill as an engraver responsible for this Beer Jug


Broadhursts in Longton 1847 -1870 & Bridgwoods in Longton 1795 – 1853

Were taken over by Aynsley and run by his son John Gerrard Aynsley from 1890 – 1924 they kept the Bridgwoods name and products. In 1924 to 1964 Gerrard Aynsley his son took over.

John Aynsley (II) Also set up Herbert and Henry Aynsley at the Commerce Works









more details to follow



Longton’s supply of ‘Long-Flame’ coal was excellent for bone china production and one man came into his own in producing the finest bone china. John Aynsley (I) started pottery production in 1775 in the area once known as Lane End. Indeed to this day the Aynsley factory is just along the road from a competitor named ‘Lane End Pottery’ and the Aynsley shop is right next door. The present business, John Aynsley & Sons, was formed in 1860. He was central to local government and stood four times as Lord Mayor.