Verwood UK - Heritage Centre

VHHC History

Verwood Museum Trust - Dorset UK. (Registered Charity No. 1067952)

 

 

    History of the VERWOOD HEATHLAND HERITAGE CENTRE    
 SITE OF THE CROSSROADS POTTERY.

 

Background.

Verwood is situated in an area of many clay seams, which supported numerous potteries and 5 brickworks. The date of construction is uncertain. The site is evident on the Tithe Map of 1847 and the recent archaeological dig, manganese, glazed pottery from the 18th century was discovered.

The Drying Shed (Now the VHHC Museum).

The drying shed building is of cob construction, with foundations and floor of brick. The cob walls were built using clay mixed with chopped heather, furze and manure and put between boarding about 3 feet high. When that dried, the boards were moved up and another layer added. These are called rearings and can still be seen clearly.

The building has two stories. The roof is tiled with a lining of heather supported by battens. The exciting feature of the building is that it still has the original roof with charred battens and the drying racks in the upper storey remain.

Clay for the Pottery.

Much of the clay dug in the village was yellow. Some clay was dug nearby, from the Ferrett Green site and the eastern side of the pottery. Blue clay was brought by horse A cart A later steam engine from Holwell, near the Heavy Horse Centre. In latter years, blue clay came from Corfe Mullen. The yellow clay was used for flower pots, as it was porous and blue clay for pitchers and larger vessels, due to its strength.

Clay was brought into the building by barrow and put to soak in water, in a pit (now under the boards). It was then dug out and stacked against an inside wall, the remains of which are evident.

The clay was then mixed with sand and water by a man using his bare feet, keeping himself upright using a pole.  The clay was then mixed with sand and water by a man using his bare feet, keeping himself upright using a pole. The clay was ready for making.

This system was also used in the brick lean-to, now demolished. The old brick floor and soak pit can be seen in front of the restored building.

Potting.

Two types of wheel were used. To enable the potter to create his pot, his assistant, sitting on an upturned pot, pushed and pulled a pole which, with a simple mechanism, turned the wheel. The other type functioned by an assistant turning a handle, similar to the mechanism of a bicycle, which turned the wheel.

Pots were created and dried outside when the weather was suitable and in the drying shed when wet.

Kiln.

On the site of April Cottage, next door, was a large kiln mound containing two kiln chambers. The kilns were stacked from the top of the mound, the operators having to carry the pots up some steps and then down a ladder inside to stack from the base of the kiln. Firing took place for three days and nights.

Other History and uses of the Site.

There was a shop on this site, but other ware, together with besom brooms were taken by higglers with their horses and wagons as far afield as Devon and Basingstoke .

By 1920, due to the development of enamel ware, the demand for Verwood ware declined. Fred Fry took over with hopes to continue and in 1925, Robert Thorne Ltd bought the site.

During the Second World War, Boy Scout meetings were held in the room above the corridor and toilets for Ladies and the Disabled.

The Crossroads Pottery was the last remaining of the numerous primitive potteries in the area and it eventually closing in 1952.

Since then it has been variously rented for a number of uses including a Tea Shop and a Hardware Store (The Potters Wheel) which eventually closed in 1992. The owners, Robert Thorne Ltd. then donated the Potters Wheel building to the town. Eventually after fundraising and much work it opened in 2003 as the Verwood Heathlands Heritage Centre.

 

   

 

 
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