From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present

T. G. Green Potteries

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T. G. Green Potteries is located in Church Gresley near Swadlincote, Derbyshire. It is famous for the Cornishware and Domino brands.

The founder of the company was Thomas Goodwin Green, who after a short stay in Australia married Mary Tenniel, sister of the famous Punch cartoonist and illustrator of Alice In Wonderland, John Tenniel. After meeting a Mr Henry Wileman while on their honeymoon, and upon finding he had a small pottery factory at Church Gresley which he wished to sell, Thomas Green became a potter in 1864. The factory was originally built in 1790.

After almost becoming bankrupt a number of times, Thomas learned the hard way to become a successful potter while raising a family, consisting of two girls and four boys. At first he continued making mixing bowls and teapots with a workforce of fifty men from local coloured clays. As the business grew, Thomas formed a partnership with Henry William King. The control of the company remained with the Greens and Kings until 1964.

The basic pottery TG Greens produced was falling out of favor due to a new type of pottery, a white earthenware, being produced in Stoke on Trent. In 1871, a production change to this new earthenware resulted in a new factory being built close to the old one. Thomas's oldest son, Stanley, was set on to oversee the building of the new factory and then to become general manager on its completion. What made this factory unique was the fact that they dug their own brick clay, had a small coal mine to power the kilns and also made their own lime mortar in a purpose built Limekiln just to build the factory.

Some time in the 1890's Thomas Green retired handing over the his share of the company to his sons, Stanley and Roger. Stanley, not happy with the arrangements soon left, leaving Roger Green and Henry King to run the business. Thomas retired to London where he died in 1902. Henry Greens son, Percy, became a salesman for the company around the 1900's, then later became sales manager for the whole site.

As the company grew under Roger and Henrys leadership, so did the scope of work in the pottery. The company refined its own raw materials in typical TG Green style. More buildings were built to cater for this and the work force grew, with a large maintenance and engineering staff, including bricklayers, carpenters, blacksmiths, wheelwrights, pipe fitters, millwrights and general labourers. A team of eight Clydesdales horses with various drays and carts were kept on site, for deliveries and the supply of materials for the site.

Tragedy struck in 1903, with a large fire claiming most of the new works. This was rebuilt, which explains the haphazard nature of the buildings, mixing old with new in a seemingly random nature. The factory was electrified in 1911, and the removal of the old boilers and the steam engine. These were replaced with new boilers and generators, which powered electric motors and lighting which increased productivity.

The great war, 1914 to 1918 caused few problems for TG Greens, but after, a shortage of orders forced TG Greens into a war of survival with the potters in Stoke on Trent. Prices crashed, a two day working week became common. To combat these problems, a new line of pottery was introduced, the now famous Cornish Kitchenware, with distinctive blue and white banding. This helped to keep TG Greens in business.

At the start of World War Two, TG Greens was in fine shape, making steady profits, with Kenneth Green and Henry King II ready to take over control of the company, but instead they went to fight in the war. A new tunnel kiln was installed in 1938, designed to run on gas. Despite early teething troubles it became a valuable asset. This time though, the war was to have a great effect on the company, demand for pottery was extremely high world wide, but because of a shortage of skilled labour and the need for modern mechanized equipment left the company in dire straights. Semiautomatic machines were introduced where possible but modern kilns were beyond the reach of the company as profits went to share holders and were not reinvested in the company.

In 1955, a new 30% purchase tax was introduced on pottery, this forced most Stoke on Trent factorys to close and was the beginning of the end for TG Greens. With no capital to fully modernize and despite efforts to diversify, with every saleable asset sold the receivers were called in during 1965. TG Greens were no more.

The receiver sold the company to the london Finance Partnership in 1967. They sold it in 1968 to a Mr Freeman. He ran the company successfully for a number of years until again selling it on. In 2001 it was sold to a rival factory, Mason Cash, but only lasted 3 years, going into voluntary liquidation in 2004. Mason Cash and TG Greens were bought out by The Table Top Company, who started to turn the company around with an injection of cash and new machinery. They expanded the Cornish ware range and introduced the Domino range in 2005. Sadly in July 2007 the company finally closed for the last time with all the usable machinery sold. The fate of the building is uncertain.