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The Potteries is an area in Staffordshire in the middle of England around the city of Stoke on Trent where the pottery industry grew up originally because of the clay in the ground. The industry reached its peak in the Victorian and Edwardian eras and is now sadly in decline.
The area was once full of pottery factories or potbanks with their distinctively shaped bottle ovens where the ware was fired. There are relatively few of these left now and these are listed buildings.
bottle ovens
These are some of the best preserved bottle ovens being situated at Gladstone pottery museum, the last remaining complete  Victorian pottery.
bottle ovens 

The two remaining kilns on this site have been saved and incorporated into a new housing developement
bottle kilns bottle kilns

For all children brought up in the Industrial period of our history life was hard and certainly in the pottery industry life was just as hard as it was in the mines or mills of Lancashire. Here in the Potteries, children had to contend with the heat of the bottle kilns, poisonous substances, the heavy weight of clay to break down and carry and very long working hours.

The factories could either be very well appointed or completely run down as the following reports of the time show.
Factory 1

The building, situated on spacious
and open ground fronting the canal,
is of large dimensions, substantially
and well built; every room throughout
is well ventilated, lofty, clean, and
extremely commodious. The system
and order equally good, the people
all seem happy and contented.
Factory 2

These works are very extensive, they appear to be erected many years. The printing rooms, throwing rooms, pressing
rooms, and painting rooms, in which
numbers are working together, are
close, low, small, and inconvenient
places and they are hot and unhealthy.
There are no means of ventilation. 
The quotes from some children at the time give some idea of their working day.

Jacob: aged 12

I am a runner of dish moulds for John. He lays on me sometimes. Other men lay on their lads often for nothing; some of them put red hot coal under the feet of the runners to burn and some put on cockspurs to hurt our feet when running. We work without shoes or stockings. I am very tired when I get home at night. I get bread and cheese for breakfast. If I had my choice I would rather work from six to six rather than to nine.

William: aged 11

I work in the dipping house brushing the ware. Can't read or write. I don't go to Sunday school cos I haven't any clothes to go in. I have no jacket besides what I have on. I work a 12 hour day.

Herbert: aged 12

I have worked in this room for 4 years as a handle presser. I've got a cough, have had it 3 or 4 years; feel it more in the winter; I do not think that jumping on the moulds hurts me; I do not like it; I want to go into another room; I like potting; I would rather be a potter than a tailor or shoemaker.

Mary Ann: aged 11

I take tiles off the bench and lays them down on the hot floor; they call me a runner. I cannot read or write;I worked in the brickyard for about 4 years. Before I come to work I stopped at home to nurse the baby. I get milk-meat for breakfast and beef and tatoes for dinner.
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