Object of the Month: The loading of a kiln at Compton Pottery

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Posted 6th December 2018

The loading of a kiln at Compton Pottery

Reproduction of a photograph, c. 1911

Abbie Latham

In January 1923, just six years after Mary's speech, it was reported that sparks from the kiln had flown onto the thatched roof, engulfing the pottery building in flames. The upper floor of the building was completely destroyed and much of the stock was lost. An article in a local newspaper claimed that the fire had caused an estimated £1,000 of damage, approximately over £50,000 today. A letter was received from Queen Mary, in which she recalled 'with much pleasure' her previous visit to Compton and expressed her deepest sympathies 'that so many beautiful things have been destroyed'.

After the fire, aware of the hazards of the kiln, the timber structured pottery building was restored in brick and the thatched roof was replaced with tiles. In the early twentieth century trade was steady and the products proved popular, with stock being sold at Liberty & Co, London. However by the 1930's Compton Pottery were struggling in the face of financial pressures and market competition. After several organisational changes, in June 1951 a journalist from The Surrey Times reported as he watched the kiln being filled for the final time.

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