A green wall with five terracotta pottery pieces mounted

Compton Pottery in the Mary Watts Gallery at Limnerslease

Wanting to ‘make even common things on good lines’, Mary Watts described how work at the Potters’ Arts Guild was initially ‘dependent on the sale of garden pots’.

Before 1900, the majority of terracotta garden ware in Britain was imported from Italy, which was expensive and often resulted in breakages during transportation. The weather in Britain also affected these imported products. Mary acknowledged that the Pottery had aimed, ‘through the right preparation of local clay’, ‘to achieve greater durability than is generally found in Italian ware when brought to our climate’.

Mary spoke of the early difficulties the pottery faced, due to their dependence on local brickyards. These difficulties stopped when a seam of clay was found in the grounds of Limnerslease: as Mary said, the problem was ‘happily brought to an end by the discovery of an excellent vein of clay, which runs through our own few acres’. This increased the speed and reduced the costs of production. It also supported Mary’s vision that the pottery should be a local, self-sustaining enterprise.

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