More than 45 years of success in providing commercial property for rent in Stoke on Trent

After the death of his parents William Podmore decided to concentrate on his engineering company and soon outgrew the property that they were occupying.  After several years searching he came upon a property that was to be sold by auction.

Grimwades Limited was a pottery company which was sold in 1964 to the Howard Pottery and the business transferred to Norfolk Street, Shelton.  It continued to trade as Royal Winton Pottery.

The contents were sold by auction in 1965 and the properties were sold separately.

The sale catalogue from 1965 showed two properties owned by Grimwades Limited, a third building on the other side of Newlands Street was sold prior to the sale and was demolished and the site used as a petrol station.

William Podmore purchased lot 2 in 1965, the main pottery belonging to Grimwades as Winton Property.  Although the property was much too big for the requirements of the engineering company, it was in an excellent position on the main road and convenient for the main line railway station, post office, the North Staffs Hotel and the Pottery Manufacturers Federation Club.  It had a good office building but the remaining buildings and bottle kilns were of no use

The main Stoke Road elevation was a three storey building, but as Stoke Road is inclined, at the south end it was four storeys.

The Newlands Street elevation is mostly three storey and a warehouse, whereas it had originally consisted of eleven houses, an off-licence and a warehouse built in the early 1900’s

The South part of the building which overlooks the railway is now uniform and orderly, but in 1965 these areas consisted of an indiscriminate mixture of buildings of different sizes, heights and shapes connected with bridges and exterior staircases.  Access was very difficult, even for a horse and cart and the kilns at the east end could only be fired by coal transported in a barrow.  The corridor which has now been provided as an accessible entrance in Newlands Street was originally the Coach entrance.

The central area consisted of many small rooms often at different levels and connected by small passages.  This was not only due to the way the buildings had been added to make extra work space, but also due to a tradition which developed in the industry.  In the period up to 1900, it was usual for the different craftsmen to insist on having their own room.

The original building on Stoke Road was well designed and built in a good quality red brick with stone features.  The date stone of 1891 was removed when another storey to the building was added.  The whole central gable was removed and taken to Mr Podmores home, Consall Hall to be used as a feature in the garden.  The original building had been altered a great deal between 1918 and 1939, part was converted to a restaurant and part of the corner section to a shop.

The eleven houses remained in the company ownership and were still standing in 1965, though they had all been empty for many years.  The houses were built around 1850 and the numbers suggest that some houses existed towards Stoke Road which were demolished in 1890 in order to build the new factory.

In 1965 the remaining houses were demolished along with the off-licence which was purchased separately around 1970.  A small area was cleared for an office and workshop for Podmores Engineers and the previous premises were sold.  At the same time the central buildings were cleared and a single storey building was erected with a roof top car park.  Before he had completed the development for his own company’s use, William Podmore was receiving enquires from other companies for offices and workshops and as fast as they could be converted, they were let.

The warehouses in Newlands Street were originally built and occupied by a lithograph company, the Chromo-transfer and Potters Supply Co. Limited.

It is evident Grimwades had a very close financial interest in the company and it is possible it was set up to develop Leonard Grimwades development of the lithograph papers and the process generally.  The products would be sold to other potteries as the lithograph companies were independent and it was general policy to sell the same design to several potteries.

The companies ceased to exist in the Newlands property during the 1930’s and the property was purchased in 1938 by Rileys, a subsidiary company of Longton Transport.  In 1971 the warehouses were purchased to complete the island site of about 2 acres.  The last two traditional type oven kilns were demolished.

The factory was typical of the Potteries built in the Victorian times, when there was very little mechanisation and all the processes being done by hand.  The ware was carried on boards balanced on the head of a man or boy when moved from one operation to the next.  This involved carrying the ware through open passages and corridors and often up and down several flights of stairs.

The original layout was good, with well proportioned rooms and stairs with reasonable headroom and lighting.  However, as the output increased, short term solutions were applied and the later additions were not properly planned and these conditions became impossible as mechanisation developed.

After 1946, labour costs and a shortage of skilled labour meant that mechanisation was imperative and it appears that the management failed to adapt.  The layout, shortage of space, and maybe finance, was no doubt a problem.  The pottery industry as a whole was badly hit by the war, as the government, “telescoped” the companies.  Groups of companies were forced to amalgamate and the work of the group was curtailed and what was left was done by one company.

It was evident that on viewing the factory before the sale that the company had slowly faded since the end of the war.  Very little had been done to modernise the layout and the offices and potters shops were cluttered with old items and bore a resemblance to the Dickensian period.  The old type office desks had a sloping top which consisted of a flap covering a box.  At the top the flap was hinged on a level area in which ink wells were sunk and on top, brass racks to hold pens.  The desk top was positioned so that one had to stand in order to work.

There was very little equipment in the offices, and then only old typewriters and telephones.  In the factory there was very little machinery and there was no slip-house, as all the clay used in the ware was prepared elsewhere.

The whole place was cluttered with half made ware of all sorts and sizes and the offices were littered with papers, business books and trade literature, going back to the early days.  They were all in a filthy condition and covered with layers of dust.

The Howard Pottery who bought the business took some of the items, but it is regrettable that a small area was not kept as a museum with some of the records of a fascinating period of our local industry.

At the time, it was quite new and considered very risky.  The policy did work and many companies have started and flourished within Winton House.  It has proved successful for over 45 years and continues today.