In Slater’s Commercial Directory of 1846, there is an advert for Annfield Pottery, 539 Gallowgate Street, Glasgow, established in 1826 naming John Thomson, Manufacturer of Earthenware.
According to his gravestone in Janefield Graveyard I.e. The Eastern Necropolis, Glasgow, John Thomson was born in Glasgow on the 5th of August, 1805. If Annfield Pottery was established in 1826, he was only 21 years old. He perhaps had family finance behind him when embarking on such a venture. It is said that he brought many of his workers from Burslem in Staffordshire.
He married Margaret Garrow around the same time and they had nine children; six of whom grew to adulthood.
In 1842, the pottery produced a full dinner service in the memory of Samuel Coulters for the family of that gentleman. It is of high quality and must have been expensive to make. The pattern name is ‘Prince of Wales’. The future Edward VII was born on the 9th of November, 1841 and may have been the reason for the pattern name.
He purchased a new house at 27 Whitevale Street in 1843. This was to be the family home for many years.
John Thomson’s sons, James and William, and Alfred Arthur become partners in the business in 1865. John retired in 1868 and died on the 21st of August 1870, in Helensburgh.
Alfred Arthur was already established in Burslem as a potter and really took no part in the day to day running of the business.
The pottery carried on producing until 1883 and was finally wound up in 1887.
The flint mill attached to the pottery continued producing flint until 1933 under various owners.
As per the 1846 Slater’s Directory advertisement, a list of wares advertised for sale includes: dessert and tea services with every other article in common use for ‘Home Sale’ and ‘Exportation’ – black and brown glazed wares.
Crocks, milk dishes, teapots, jars etc. Garden and fancy flower pots of every improved shape, ornamental vases, fire clay, also plain and fancy chimney cans in great variety, sugar moulds and drip pots, water pipes etc. etc.
This gives an excellent description of the pottery’s range at that date
No purely decorative items seem to have survived, as the pottery produced mainly utilitarian wares, albeit with most being finely potted and well decorated.
Mainly sold in Scotland and exported to Canada and America; possibly to Australia, although no strong evidence yet exists.
The Society have a report of an archaeological dig at Fort Wellington near Prescott, Ontario, Canada where in excess of a hundred sherds attributable to Annfield were found. These sherds were deposited there between very specific dates of 1843 and 1854 and shed light on the type of ware being produced in 1840s and 50s by Thomson and show that an export trade existed to the New World. The sherds include a number of so-called “children’s plates”.
In 2014, an article appeared in The Transfer Collectors’ Club Magazine by Michael Sack, in it he illustrates more children’s plates by Annfield, one called Indian Chiefs which was also a sherd found at Fort Wellington.
Of the others mentioned, one is ‘Away to California’, another ‘California Diggings’ and another ‘Ready for the Journey‘, all of these could have been intended for an export market.
Australian museums have been questioned, and have but one piece – hardly a trade. A few pieces have also turned up in Java.
There is a reference in J A Fleming’s book, “Scottish Pottery” that there was a large export trade to Australia but this has yet to be established .
However in the Edinburgh Gazette of 1865 there is an entry concerning the dissolution of a partnership. John Thomson was acting as Factor and Commissioner for one Gavin Mason who had a wholesale china and glass merchants in Sydney, the other part of Mason and Sons was in Glasgow.
One of the other witnesses was James Thomson of Whitevale Street, probably John’s son. The dissolution was amicable and it points at least to some movement of goods in some quantity to the Antipodes.
Articles in SPHR
Typical Backstamps & Marks
“Thomson” Impressed, “Prince of Wales” (Printed) “J.T.”, “J.T. & S” “J. T. & Sons”
An impressed shield with “Stone Ware J.T.”, Impressed anchor with “Thomson Granite” also impressed
- Alpine Sports
- Asiatic Pheasant
- Flora’s (or Floral) Gems
- Flower Gathering
- Free Trade
- Highland Dance
- Hong Kong
- Juvenile Companions
- Marine Grotto
- Prince of Wales
- Royal Rose
- Rural Sports
- Water Lily
- Wild Rose