The pottery was founded in 1810 by James Muir and Alan Ker jnr., together with James Stevenson, a potter from Prestonpans. Stevenson had worked in a pottery in Belfast and had a china retail business in Greenock with James and his brother, Andrew Muir. Stevenson was Managing Partner. Andrew Muir was not listed as one of the owners in this first phase of the Clyde Pottery.
The company bought land on a hill outside Greenock for a flint mill in 1823. In that same year Ker died and the pottery was offered for sale but no buyer was found. The pottery continued until James Muir died in 1834.
In 1835 a dam, called Beith’s Dam which retained the waters of the Cartsburn and fed the pottery’s flint mill, burst and some forty people were drowned in the village of Cartsdyke. The mill was subsequently repaired.
James Muir had stipulated in his will that his businesses be sold off. The Muir family had many business interests in Greenock and beyond . They were manufacturers of straw hats and had invested in ships to carry goods across the Atlantic as well as to Europe. The Muirs even ventured into Russia in a major way. There’s a fascinating story.
James’ younger son Andrew Muir and James’ brother, also Andrew, bought the pottery in 1836 and ran it until 1841. From this period we have the transfer prints, British Rivers and Caledonian on dinner ware.
Thomas Shirley, an English potter, and John Milligan, of whom little is known, bought the works and ran it as Thomas Shirley & Co. making transfer printed earthenware. Among the patterns known from this phase are Gondola, Saxon, Athenian Sketches and also British Rivers but in a increased range of ware. Thomas Shirley died in 1850 and his son William ran the works but faced bankruptcy in 1857. Once this had been concluded, the pottery was acquired by a number of businessmen and potters; James Brownlie, an experienced potter, was the main shareholder in this new company.
There were several changes of ownership throughout the life of this pottery but from census returns it can be seen that it employed a considerable number of people, in 1861 some 95 potters were employed, 1871 shows 176 and 1891 there were 142. In the post-1857 life of the pottery, the range of ware and patterns was vastly increased. British Rivers continued to be produced along with many commemorative pieces and ware for the growing Christmas market. Spongeware was also a feature but attribution is almost impossible, as such ware was rarely marked. The pottery finally closed in 1904.
Creamware, transfer wares, moulded wares, pitchers and jugs, commemorative wares, tobacco jars. Less commonly: Mazarin blue, hand painted wares and spongeware.
Domestic and North American markets.
It doesn’t seem that much research has been undertaken into the Ladyburn Pottery and details are therefore sketchy. It was founded c1820 as The Greenock Pottery perhaps by James Stevenson.
In 1841, William and Thomas Shirley of nearby Clyde Pottery leased the business and merged its operations with the Clyde Pottery company. John Milligan was also a partner.
By 1847, the pottery had not been as much a success as hoped and John Milligan operated the pottery when the Shirleys left.
In 1849, John passed it on to John and William Shirley before it was again sold to Geddes and Clough, who also failed and were sequestered in 1860.
It likely traded alongside Clyde pottery until that pottery’s closure around 1905.
Typical Backstamps & Marks
Greenock Pottery, A.M., TS & Co/Coy, CPCo/Coy, Clyde P. Co., Clyde Pottery
- Aquatic Birds
- Athenian Sketches
- British Rivers
- Broseley Continental
- Cable Cabul
- Glasgow Exhibition 1888
- Gondola Mansion
- Hawthorn Blossom
- Heather Bell
- Indian Tree
- Le Tombeau de Paul et Virginia
- My pet
- Oriental Scenes/Scenery
- Passion Flower
- Prince Charlie
- Rio Saxon
- Rosebery Rose
- Royal Bowl
- Royal Jug
- Royal Stag
- Tam O’Shanter
- The Lily of the Valley
- Venetian Sketches