Lowdins Pottery Redcliffe

Photograph : Steve Sharp

The Axbridge Caving Group has been exploring the caves, by digging through the infill, trying to find new passages. One evening many years ago we located three small chambers and the final chamber was covered in writing and graffiti dating from 1761. We contacted Bristol Museum who donned their dirty gear and crawled thorough the passages to examine the writing we had found. They confirmed that the style of writing was coincided the dates on the walls but asked us several times if we had touched the pottery dump. There is an area of the caves, which is marked on the survey as the Pottery Dump and we had promised the Council that we would not dig there; so we had not touched it. They revealed that the dump was thought to be left there by a firm called Lowdins but seemed hesitant to reveal any more details.

My curiosity was aroused so a visit to the Reference Library was in order. The glass kilns did not only fire glass but sometimes fired pottery and between 1748 and 17532 Lowdins experimented in the manufacture of soft paste porcelain. They succeeded and produced two types of porcelain ware both in blue and white – sauce boats and a Chinese figure 6¾ inches high. In 1752 the potters left Bristol, travelled to Worcester and formed the Royal Worcester Company.

Only fifty of these items have ever come to auction the sauce boats being valued at £5,000 to £8,000 and the Chinese figures £10,000 to £12,000. So that is why we should not dig there!

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