Musselburgh Pottery

Newbigging, Bowl, William Reid 1820
Newbigging, Bowl, William Reid 1820
Newbigging Pottery, Billhead
Newbigging Pottery, Billhead


The Newbigging Pottery c1801 south of Musselburgh High Street, founded by William Reid, who died in 1835 and the pottery was run as M Reid & Sons. William’s second wife, Marion, continued the pottery with the help of the appointed manager, Jonathon Forster.
Jonathon’s son, James Forster, purchased the pottery around 1862

In 1866, the Pottery was subdivided and part of it taken over by James Turner who produced stoneware and, by 1869, his share of the factory had been taken over by W A Gray of the Midlothian Pottery, Portobello. 
An A&W Winkle were owners of the pottery between the periods of Gray and Forester, but the dates are unclear.  It is known they were in ownership due to bankruptcy filings they made detailing the failure of their business.

James Forster was succeeded in 1886 by his son, another Jonathan, who continued to produce earthenware at the factory until about 1893. 

See Midlothian/Gray:
After Forster’s closure, Gray took over and ran the entire factory. W A Gray & Sons Ltd still owned the Pottery when it closed in 1928.

William Affleck Gray, M.D. M.R.C.S.E., was established in the Newbigging Pottery, commencing production as Midlothian Stone Ware Potteries, West Vennel, Newbigging. In two separate acquisitions, one in 1870, and another in 1875, he purchased the White Potterie, Clay, and Flint Mills at Portobello from heirs of the Rathbone family.

Gray then developed the joint Newbigging and Portobello Potteries into a major producer of Stoneware. His sons, William and Alexander, eventually took charge of both potteries, with William at Newbigging, and Alexander in Portobello; he conducted his medical practice from Newbigging Lodge, and later from Rathbone House, Portobello

Main Products

Little is known of the Reid period, although white and brown wares are known to have been made, from advertisements, no marked wares are known. 

The wares produced by Reid were astounding for their time, and were far better than many of their more successful Scottish pottery counterparts.  The basket weave bowl, with a cobalt band, decorated floral panels and gilt decoration is inscribed “William Reid, 1822”.

Gray produced the same ranges of stoneware as per his Midlothian pottery range of stoneware: spirit jars and bottles, spirit barrels, bowls and pans, jugs and pitchers, butter, beef, and jam pots, bottles, feet and carriage warmers, etc.  Most of these were made for the domestic market. 

Articles in SPHR

Articles in Bulletin (Members only)

Typical Backstamps & Marks

Two presumably specially commissioned pieces from the William Reid period are inscribed William Reid.  The puzzle jug is held by the national museum who have attributed it to William Reid.

Pattern Names

  • No patterns are recorded for either pottery.  It is unlikely that patterns were used for Reid’s period and the stoneware produced by Gray was not pattern named.