Belleek and the Mobility of Victorian Pottery Workers

The town of Belleek is situated in Fermanagh in the north-west corner of Ireland close to its neighbouring county of Donegal. In 1610 Sir Edward Blennerhassett of Norfolk and his brother Thomas, planters installed by the English, were granted two estates in Fermanagh and founded the town of Belleek. Forty years later the estate was sold to Sir James Caldwell and it remained in the hands of the Caldwell family for almost 200 years. In 1830 the estate was inherited by the eldest daughter of the last male heir, who had married Major John Bloomfield. It was their son, John Caldwell Bloomfield, born in 1823, who was one of the principal founders of the Pottery.

 

Before the arrival of the pottery Belleek was simply a collection of thatched houses chiefly on the north bank of the River Erne. A description in 1851 by the angling author Reverend Henry Newland staying at the only hotel in the village with ‘…its floors of wood, and its thatch not of the newest or most watertight, but being the only house in the village that could boast a story above the ground floor…’ stated that Belleek was ‘…a sort of lake seaport. It carries on a languid trade with Enniskillen, Pettigo and the villages of the Upper Lake, exporting eels, dilsk (seaweed), and other maritime productions, and receiving in exchange raw flax, corn and occasionally cattle.’

 

Aware of the devastation caused by the potato famine Bloomfield sought to provide some form of employment for his tenants. Ordering a geological survey he discovered the necessary raw materials to make pottery – feldspar, kaolin, flint, clay and shale. Seeking to put his ideas into practice Bloomfield took samples into the shop of W H Kerr in Dublin to have them analysed. Kerr, a director of The Royal Worcester Porcelain factory, introduced him to Robert Williams Armstrong, a ceramics expert and architect who had been involved with the potteries of the English Midlands. With much in common, they agreed to work together. Bloomfield would provide the land at a nominal rent whilst Armstrong would design, build, and manage the pottery. A financial backer was required and Bloomfield approached David McBirney, a wealthy Dublin Merchant. Bloomfield and Armstrong's enthusiasm ignited McBirney’s interest and he and Armstrong travelled to the Worcester Porcelain Factory where Kerr helped in evaluating the Castle Caldwell clay and feldspar by making trial pieces. McBirney agreed to finance the venture that would be known as ‘D. McBirney and Co.’

 

The site was chosen at the southern end of the town known as Rose Isle. Here the River Erne could be harnessed to provide the power to drive a waterwheel. The Pottery's foundation stone was laid in Nov 1858 and the factory was built to resemble a large country house measuring 160ft long and 33ft wide with two kilns and reflected Armstrong’s architectural skill and understanding of pottery production. The waterwheel on the left side of the building was employed for the grinding and preparation of raw materials as well as providing power to other machinery in the works through an exhaustive system of gearwheels and linkages.

 

Initial production was confined to a wide range of earthenware, for which ball clay was imported, including high-quality domestic ware, pestles, mortars, washstands, floor tiles, telephone insulators and hospital sanitation items. Being cheaper to produce, earthenware was Belleek's most profitable line and on a number of occasions became the lifeline upon which the factory depended. Simultaneously as ball clay was being imported local feldspar was being exported for its use in porcelain in England, most notably to Worcester. However it was the ambition of Bloomfield, Armstrong and McBirney to produce high-quality porcelain, feeling that only through this medium would their business achieve international recognition. It was the profit made from the sale of earthenware products that was invested in experiments on Parian.

 

These early attempts failed and in 1863 Armstrong came to England to recruit workers with skill and experience. Tempted with the offer of higher wages, housing and fishing and shooting rights he returned with 14 workers including William Bromley and William Gallimore, foreman and chief modeller respectively, from the Goss factory in Stoke on Trent. (Why workers weren’t enticed away from the Royal Worcester factory is unknown). Goss had developed an egg shell porcelain and with the assistance of those that Armstrong had brought back Belleek Parian now developed to a quality fit to be marketed. It may be likely that Bromley and Gallimore brought moulds with them as several Belleek Parian pieces, including the bust of Charles Dickens, are almost identical to those from Goss. Rathmore Terrace, a row of superior dwellings compared to the standard of housing in Belleek, was built to accommodate these English artisans. These houses, featuring a large living room with small scullery behind and two bedrooms above, similar in internal design to the workers houses at Etruria, overlooked the new pottery and became known as ‘English Row.’ These were in sharp contrast to another more modest set of semi-detached houses built for the local pottery workers at St Patrick’s Terrace that became known as ‘Irish Row.’ The hours of work were generally 6am to 6pm six days a week. Boys worked from 7am to 10am after which they went to school. By 1865 the workforce numbered 70, of which 30 were children, although four years later this number had risen to 180, 27 of which were ‘imported’ workers.

 

Gallimore, along with many of the others, eventually returned to Goss in 1866, probably prompted by the threatening atmosphere of Fenianism. These heightened during the mid-1860s and prompted Armstrong to write to the authorities urging that ‘strong measures are instantly taken to secure life and property for the English people that I have brought into the country or at once send them to their home where they can have the protection that cannot be secured to them here.’ William Henry Goss later stated that ‘after having given all the manufacturing secrets away to their Irish rival, the guilty parties, including Gallimore, all went back with their tails between their legs.’ While in Belleek Gallimore had enjoyed the opportunities for fishing and shooting, the latter of which cost him his right arm. As William Henry Goss recalled ‘Poor Gallimore was out shooting when it occurred and his arm was so fearfully shattered by the bursting of a gun that it literally ‘hung by a thread’. He was a man of great pluck and iron nerve, and did not lose heart but simply relieved his feelings with emphatic words. First one doctor came and then another to look at the wreckage but nobody seemed anxious to finish the severance till at last Gallimore, losing all patience, cried out ‘If one of you don’t get to work and cut it off sharp I’ll get a knife and fork and cut it off myself.’

 

One individual who did not return was Sam Scarlett. Born in Fenton in 1834 he was the victim of an unfortunate accident as recorded in the ‘Enniskillen Advertiser and North West Counties Gazette’: ‘On Sunday evening, September 15th [1872] at about half past five three men took a boat out on the River Erne at Ballyshannon. When crossing at the point of the island the boat, which had a deep keel, became unmanageable in the current. One of the men jumped onto the island. The boat was then carried to the point of the eel weir where one man jumped onto the wall. The third man was thrown into the water and was seen floating for a long distance before sinking. He was married and leaves a wife and two children. The boat was dashed to pieces on the rocks.’

 

Until the arrival of the railway in 1886 coal for the firing of the kilns was delivered to the port of Ballyshannon and transported the last three miles by horse and cart. Belleek’s main disadvantage was its distance from the coalfields. In North Staffordshire the availability of coal was a key element in the success of its pottery industry. Because of this Belleek would never be able to compete on a cost basis with the English Midlands in the production of domestic wares but a high quality ceramic product might have a chance in succeeding. The high price that porcelain could attract would help to overcome the long distance from coal supplies and the remoteness of Belleek from suitable markets. Because of this the initial firings were augmented by turf. The railway was proposed to not only reduce the cost of incoming raw materials but also reduce incidences of breakages when exporting the finished goods. Its planned course from Enniskillen to Sligo however only reached as far as Bundoran and an insufficiently strong bridge over the Erne at Belleek proved a major obstacle to the maximum use of the line. When the line did open in June 1866 little or none of the expected benefits ever percolated the area with the exception of increased income from tourism and fishing. Even after the opening of the railway some raw materials were still imported by sea. Rivalry between the railway and sea transportation culminated in a ship carrying ball clay being purposely scuppered on the sandbanks at Ballyshannon.

 

Between 1861 and 1871 the population of the village jumped from 223 to 327 and the number of houses rose from 42 to 60. A visit to the factory by the Belfast Naturalists Field Club in August 1869 commented that ‘most of the party had perhaps expected to see an edifice as yet low, rough and rural, but scarcely to find a structure beautiful in its architecture, extensive, and fully organised, giving employment to hundreds of hands, the sight of which is one of the most pleasant and hopeful imaginable. There is none of the squalor, ill-health, and pallor, unhappily so often witnessed in English and even Irish centres of industry. Fine, intelligent and healthy lasses and lads are here, all at work, and all well-contented, well-clothed, and evidentially well-fed. Some of the higher class workmen, designers and others, earn so much as £3 per week; boys who were recently apprentices and were paid originally 2s 6d per week, now earn as much as £1, and even up to 35s.’

 

Whatever ill-feelings had existed between Goss and Belleek appear later to have become fairly cordial. Some Belleek workers were employed at Goss, possibly as a form of advanced training and the Goss family visited Belleek. Victor Goss wrote to his brother Godfrey while on a fishing trip to Belleek in 1890. He stayed with Pat Cleary, an old friend of Godfrey’s and a former Goss Employee who had returned to Belleek in 1877. ‘He (Pat) has not altered a bit since he left Stoke and I knew him at once, but of course he did not know me as I was only a little boy when he last saw me. Everyone remembered you going there and asked me how you were. Montgomery is still there and asked after you and so did Henshall.’

 

Even though the knowledge and skill to produce Parian had now been gained earthenware still remained the principal product of Belleek until 1920. By as early as 1865 the company had established a growing market throughout Ireland and England, receiving commissions from Queen Victoria, the Prince of Wales and other members of the nobility, and was also exporting to America, Canada and Australia. However, from the 1870s the company also began exhibiting a number of prestigious pieces of porcelain at various exhibitions such as Parian statues, busts and centrepieces.

 

Due to the success of the pottery Belleek had become a middle-class village in less than thirty years. It was described in Lowe’s Directory of 1880 as ‘a prosperous and thriving town, most picturesque and healthy and recorded twenty commercial concerns including grocers, publicans, butchers, bakers, shoemakers, a tailor, dressmaker, draper, fishing tackle dealer and surgeon. Bloomfield later accounted that he had ‘lived to see a wretched hamlet inhabited by squalid occupiers of hovels unfit for human life, their only science the use of the tongue and the fist, their extent of art a mud pie grown into a town’ and the ‘once shirtless brats, now artisans in broadcloth, earning up to £3 10s per week and it is not the least interesting aspect of this new industry to find the artisans holding the middle-class position, and exhibiting it in their clothing, while yet their fathers, never able to emerge beyond their original position of labourers, are still contented with inferior dwellings and dress, complete the contrast between Belleek in 1850 and 1883.’

 

By 1882 the pottery employed 135 men and 35 women. In that year McBirney, now aged 78, died while on a visit to Cork. He had lost a considerable fortune on both the pottery and the railway and his son Robert, resident in America and having no interest in the factory, wanted it sold. Armstrong resisted, claiming a ‘gentleman's agreement’ that formed a partnership between himself and McBirney senior. However, with nothing on paper, McBirney’s son refused to recognise his claim. Armstrong had invested his entire savings into the Pottery and was now faced with ruin. For two years a fierce legal battle followed until the death of Armstrong in 1884. From McBirney’s viewpoint having witnessed his father’s financial loses on the business would have acted as justification for its disposal. The Pottery closed for a period of four months and was then offered for sale by public auction, and purchased by a group of local investors. The price was £4,500 for a 999 year lease with an annual rent of £50. For this sum the investors obtained the Pottery, the entire stock, the water and the fishing rights, with Armstrong’s widow paid a nominal sum for patents that she could claim were hers or her husband's.

 

In September 1884 the factory re-opened as The Belleek Pottery Works with Staffordshire-born Joshua Poole employed as manager. The directors were only interested in the profitability and were not prepared to continue backing endless experiments on Parian resulting in earthenware production increased at the expense of Parian. Those engaged in the production of luxury items were given notice to quit and many emigrated, some to America where imitation style Belleek ware had started to be produced. The firm of Ott and Brewer at Trenton in New Jersey had admired and imitated Belleek porcelain although were dissatisfied with their attempts at duplicating it. In 1882 they hired William Bromley junior from Belleek to teach them the technique. William’s father, William Bromley senior, had been instrumental in developing the porcelain process at Belleek. His son however was unsuccessful at implementing the technique and the following year he followed his son to Trenton. Other Belleek employees who also found employment at Ott and Brewer included John Gavigan and W T Morris.

 

Joshua Poole lasted only a few months being forced out by the workforce who wanted an Irishman and a Catholic, and was succeeded by James Cleary. By 1887 Poole had also emigrated to Ohio and had found employment at the Knowles Taylor and Knowles China Company. Later George and William Morley would also leave Belleek for the same company. Many of the remaining highly trained and skilled workers found that their artistic temperaments clashed with the new regime and also left fearing an uncertain future at the factory. One of those who never returned was Sam Scarlett, the head mouldmaker from Stoke, who drowned in the Erne in the 1880s.

 

However, friction still existed between the management and the workforce. A minor dispute began in 1888 on account of a new system of checking attendance. A metal number tag was given to each employee that was to be hung up on a board as each person entered the factory. Only a few complied with the new system and those that did were abused and insulted, until the board was finally stolen. James Cleary himself came under heavy criticism that was not just confined to the factory. Being also a publican and shopkeeper, the majority of these criticisms came from other retailers. They feared that the Pottery would exert pressure on employees to buy their groceries in Cleary’s shop as well as being obliged to drink in his pub.

 

A major dispute began in April 1888 after four men had been laid off. Immediately forty of the workers walked out of the factory and paraded in the street. The strike continued into early May and culminated at 3am one Sunday morning when a group of strikers set fire to the thatched roof of the house in Belleek occupied by Mrs Montgomery. One of her sons was one of the 60 employees that had refused to join the strike and he occupied the vital role of being the only kilnman still working. He had fired three of the four kilns during the previous week and the strikers were now intent on intimidating him into joining the strike. Those arrested and found guilty of the arson were to be sent to Sligo gaol receiving sentences of hard labour, although with Bloomfield’s intervention this was wavered if the workers agreed to return to work and so the strike ended.

 

Not all Parian production was abandoned and in 1893 Belleek acquired one of its first master craftsmen Frederick Slater from England. He settled into the local community, married a local girl (Garvin) and raised a family, remaining as designer until his death in 1931. It is believed that he modelled the International Centre Piece that was awarded a Gold Medal at the Paris Exhibition of 1900. A Workmen’s Time Book from 1897 lists 125 employees divided into 44 potters; 21 Parian men; 9 kilnmen; 4 employed in the saggar house; 21 in the printers warehouse; 5 claymen; 4 yardmen; and13 painters. Eugene Sheeran, a former employee, stated that many of these were children. Wages had been reduced by 30% causing many to emigrate to the potteries of England and Scotland.

 

In 1901 the population of the town of Belleek was 281, a figure that had fallen by 16 (5.4%) during the previous decade. The town contained 53 inhabited houses that housed 57 families with a further 5 that stood empty. In addition to the factory was a courthouse, a railway station, 3 churches and a number of shops. There were also 130 outbuildings, averaging 2 per dwelling, mainly used for agricultural purposes. The majority of the population (235 or 87.2%) were Roman Catholic, with 17 Church of Ireland, 5 Methodists, 2 Church of England, along with a Presbyterian and a Lutheran.

 

Forty-three of the adults (30 male and 13 female) were recorded with an occupation within the pottery industry. (The census returns examined however were only those for the town itself and some employees lived in the surrounding areas and are therefore excluded from these statistics). 16 of those 43 were listed simply as potters or pottery workers, while more specific occupations recorded 5 painters, 3 flowerers, 2 each of kilnmen, mouldmakers, china casters, Parian casters and warehouse, and single occurrences of a printer, gilder, transferrer, handle presser, earthenware presser, Parian maker, Delf tester, Delf packer, and a labourer. The governmental statistics summarised that 67 adults (51 male and 16 female) from the county of Fermanagh were employed in the pottery industry, no doubt constituting the majority of the total workforce. It is however highly possible that a small minority may have been from Donegal as Belleek stands almost on the county border. There were 10 examples of more than one member of the same household employed at the factory, 5 of which revealed offspring following their fathers into the factory.

 

The ages of the pottery workers ranged from 14 to 67, although ¾ of employees were between 16 and 26.Twenty-four of those employees had been born in Fermanagh and 14 in Donegal. From further distances 2 had been born in Leitrim and one in Antrim. Only 2 employees were recorded as being born in England. One was 55-year-old flowerer William Henshall (of more later). The other was 23-year-old John Dolan, eldest son of Michael Dolan, a 55-year-old Delf packer originally from Fermanagh. His three younger children, also employed at the pottery had been born in Donegal, suggesting that Michael had only temporarily and briefly been resident in England during the late 1870s.

 

The town also contained 21 craft workers. These consisted of 6 carpenters (one of whom also doubled as a builder), 4 dressmakers, 2 boot and shoemakers, a tailor, blacksmith, cooper, stonemason, fishing tackle maker, an artist, clerk, an egg packer and a visitor from Denmark specialising in poultry and eggs. All the others were born locally (14 from Fermanagh and 5 from Donegal) with the exception of the clerk from Londonderry. Generally there is only one such craft worker per household, the exception being the fishing tackle maker whose wife was one of the dressmakers, and a carpenter with 3 sons who had followed their fathers trade (another son was employed at the pottery). As well as this carpenter, both of the boot and shoemakers, the cooper and another of the dressmakers had children or other household members employed at the pottery. Most of the craft workers would cater for the town and its hinterland through its traders and market. Nineteen people were recorded with some form of agricultural occupation, although 9 of these also combined this with a secondary occupation such as ‘publican and farmer’ and ‘hotel proprietor and farmer’.

 

By 1911 the population had decreased to by almost a quarter to 212 (110 males and 112 females) with 50 families occupying 50 dwellings and with a further 8 uninhabited. The number of outbuildings had decreased by 50%. This suggests a significant shift in the way people were living compared to ten years earlier. The arrival of old age pensions in 1909 would have eased the necessity for the elderly to supplement their income and the upkeep of these buildings may have been an unnecessary drain on their resources or possibly there had been a concerted effort to remove decaying buildings from the town. Between 1901 and 1911 emigration from county Fermanagh accounted for just 5.8% and so the drastic decrease of almost a quarter cannot be attributed to emigration alone and suggests that some would have moved to larger towns.

 

The decrease in population was reflected in that only 31 adults in the town were now recorded as potters. 15 were simply listed as potters or pottery workers, along with 4 Parian casters, 3 transferrers, 2 each of kilnmen, flowerers and paintresses, and single occurrences of a mouldmaker, decorator, and packer. The smaller range of occupations suggests a shift towards Parian and decorative ware rather than the earthenware of 10 years earlier. The total figure of pottery workers for Fermanagh in 1911 had almost halved during the decade to 36 (31 male and 5 female - a drop of 46.3% in the total workforce of 39.2% male employees and 68.7% female employees). All 5 female employees and all but 5 of the male employees were resident in the town.

 

A decade later the crafts remained almost unchanged. All but two appeared to have been resident in the town a decade earlier, suggesting that any economic misfortune of the town did not have as great an effect on craft workers as some occupational groups, such as pottery workers. Similarly, the number of those listed with agricultural employment had only decreased slightly by 3 to 16.  An omission in the crafts is that of lace making. The recording of 7 hands from the Brallagh Sprigging Class from Belleek exhibiting in the home industries section of the Irish International Exhibition at Dublin in 1907 suggests that lace making was being conducted at this time. This however may have been seen as a hobby and therefore not listed by respondents.

 

Even before the beginning of the C20th a long running dispute developed with the Erne Drainage Board. In an attempt to control the water levels of Lough Erne the waterfalls were blasted away and replaced by sluice gates. Before doing so they undertook to keep the Erne at a level suitable to drive the Pottery's waterwheel but the factory had constant problems thereafter. These, along with the restrictions on exports during The First World War all had their effect and the workforce dwindled to 46.

 

A second strike occurred at the Pottery in 1919. The strikers claimed that their average wage was now only 18s per week, being below that of the agricultural labourer. This strike however was a leisurely, civilised affair with no conflict or strife, and those striking were often seen fishing along the banks of the Erne. The wages were increased to an average of 26s per week and the strike ended as quietly as it had meandered along.

 

The Pottery was sold again in 1920 to Bernard O'Rouke, a wealthy mill owner from Dundalk. Now known as Belleek Pottery Limited the company went through a rapid number of managers during the decade, two of which, Derrigan and Upton, were from Stoke on Trent. The problems with water were resolved in 1930 when a turbine was installed making the large waterwheel, that now powered a dynamo providing electric light to the factory, redundant. In that year a fire destroyed the company’s records and most of the history of that form was lost. Figures vary for this decade with the number of employees ranging from 130 to 200. The business entered a stable period during the 1930s until The Second World War when the factory turned again to earthenware for survival producing basic utility ware. Production of earthenware ceased entirely in 1946 to concentrate upon Parian and in 1952 electric kilns superseded coal firing and the company again entered a stable period with a workforce of 240, the largest number ever employed. Despite a slump at the beginning of the 1980s the company was sold again and continued to prosper. During the early 1990s the old buildings were demolished behind the principle listed building and a new factory built. The new management also embarked upon an acquisition strategy that included the purchase of Galway Crystal, Aynsley China and Donegal Parian China.

 

But to return to those individuals and to concentrate upon just two - William Henshall and William Wood Gallimore. Henshall is credited with the introduction of basket making and flower modelling at Belleek. He was born in Hanley in 1845. His father John was a potters modeller, who consistently gave his place of birth in the census returns as Swansea. By 1861 William, then aged 16, was also working as a potter. On Nov 14th 1864 he married Elizabeth Ferneyhough at Wolstanton Church, both bride and groom stated that they were living in Silverdale. Their first surviving child, Rose, was born on Dec 6th 1870 while the family was resident at 15 Granville Place, Burslem. They were still there in the census of the following year when William was classed as Parian figure maker. On that particular census return William incorrectly gave his birthplace as ‘Wales’, the birthplace of his father. In 1872-73 he was living in Ireland at the birth of his second child Albert but had returned to Stoke on Trent by 1875-76 at the birth of his third child William and by 1881 the family were living at 46 Seaford Street, Shelton. They were still in Stoke on Trent the following year at the birth of his fourth child Ernest. He had returned to Belleek by 1888 when engaged in some form of conflict during the strike at the factory, which he did not support, and was listed among the employees in 1897. In 1901 he was still in Belleek when his daughter Rose married Fermanagh-born Patrick Montgomery, a kilnman at the factory, and whose mother’s house had suffered the arson attack during the strike, and the couple began living next door to her parents. William died the following year. Rose and Patrick were childless, at least after 10 years of marriage they had had no children. Her widowed mother Elizabeth probably remained with her daughter until her own death, her absence from the 1911 census suggesting that she may have died before this date.

 

Wood Gallimore was born at Furlong Cottage in Burslem on February 7th 1841. Ten years later the 1851 census records the family at Buck’s Lane in Burslem, and by 1861 the family had moved to Rose Street in Hanley where the 20-year-old William had found employment as a potter’s modeller. Whether this was at the Goss factory in Stoke is unknown, although he was employed there two years later in 1863 when he was enticed, along with others from the same factory, to Belleek.

 

As mentioned earlier, Gallimore had lost his arm in a shooting accident at Belleek, and by 1866 had returned to Stoke. During that summer he married Mary Stevenson at Trinity Church, Northwood and gave his address on his marriage certificate as Rose Street so when William returned from Belleek he also returned to the parental home. William was still in the potteries in 1867 and 1868 as can be deduced from the birthplaces of his two eldest children. The birthplace of his third child in 1870 reveals that the family had returned to Ireland and their absence on the 1871 census suggests that they were still in Ireland. (The 1871 census for Ireland has been destroyed). A fourth child was also born in Ireland in 1883, although children born in 1876, 1878 and 1880 all have birthplaces in the Potteries, when by 1881, the family were resident at 9 Prospect Place, Hanley.

 

An eight child was recorded with a Potteries birthplace in 1883 although how Gallimore was employed during these years is unknown. The following year in 1884 he and his family embarked for New Jersey where the American pottery industry was seeking to emulate the Belleek style. It appears that father and eldest son returned to the UK briefly in April 1886 when they were both recorded on the passenger list of the RMS ‘Etruria’. That year Gallimore was employed as an artist and modeller at the Trent Tile Company, and three years later in 1889, had moved to the newly-formed Ceramics Art Company. Both the 1891 census for England and Wales and the corresponding one for the US contain no reference the William Gallimore and his family. However, the 1900 US census shows that the Gallimore’s were resident at 471 Bellvue Ave in the Trenton district of New Jersey. William was employed as a designer and moulder, as was his eldest son, with another son recorded as just a designer. William Wood Gallimore died at his home in Trenton on July 28th 1900.

 

The mobility aspect can be substantiated further by spending the last few minutes examining a pottery factory in south Wales. Llanelli Pottery was in production between 1839 and 1922, and like many others, including Belleek, appears to have recruited skilled workers from the Staffordshire potteries. The 1861 census records 65 Staffordshire people born listed at Llanelli, most of whom worked at the pottery. One of the pages for the aptly named district of Pottery Place in Pottery Road records 25 names that include seven people born in Stoke on Trent. One such family were the Henshalls. 16-year-old William (no relation to the William Henshall of Belleek) was employed as a potter and living with his 39-year-old widowed mother who was born in Haverford West. Also in the household was an older brother Joseph, also born in Llanelli and listed as a potters hollowware presser, and three younger sisters, the eldest of which was born in Burslem. Joseph remained in Llanelli through the subsequent censuses and his eldest son Frederick was married at Llanelli in 1894 to a girl born in Tunstall.

 

Another Henshall family was headed by Thomas (possibly an elder brother of William) born in Burslem and employed as a platemaker. He married a girl from Haverfordwest and was still resident with his family in Llanelli in 1871 but by 1881 had returned to Stoke on Trent where Thomas was employed as a pottery manager. Added to these was Henrietta Henshall a potters transferrer aged 20 and born in Burslem who was lodging further along in Pottery Place in the house of Hanley born Mary Richardson. A 22-year-old George Henshall, born in Burslem and living in Furnace, Hengoed, on the outskirts of Llanelli, is listed as a labourer. In all subsequent census returns up to and including 1901 George and his family remain in Llanelli but there appears no connection in any of their occupations with the pottery. However, their eldest son John did return to the Potteries and married a girl from Burslem.

 

The conclusion is that a number of Staffordshire potters married local girls and remained in Llanelli for the rest of their lives. This is in start contrast to those that emigrated to Belleek. It appears that few of those, with the exception of William Henshall and Frederick Slater, stayed for any great length of time. If Henshall did go out to Belleek in 1863 with the others from Goss he had returned the following year when he was married at Wolstanton. He was still in Stoke on Trent in 1871 but was at Belleek in 1872. However, by 1875 he had again returned to Stoke and was still there in 1882. He was back at Belleek in 1888 where he remained until his death in 1902. His father consistently gave his place of birth as Swansea which raises the possibility that he may have learnt his trade of modelling in the Glamorgan pottery, and decided when times became hard, to move to Stoke to continue his career. It appears that skilled workers were able to and encouraged by rival employers to move around the countryside quite widely. With the arrival of the railways during the mid-Victorian period travel became easier and William Henshall took his young family to and from Ireland a number of times as work prospects changed.