The Wade Manchester Pottery

The End of an Era? by David Chown

In February 2002 I stood in driving rain as bulldozers began to demolish the Manchester Pottery, which for a number of years, with the old A.J Wade’s Flaxman Tile Works next door, has been known as Greenhead Works, and for 97 years previously, was the centre of the Wade empire. When the Manchester Pottery was built in 1905/06 it was simply George Wade, the company changing its name in 1919 to George Wade and Son when George Wade (later Sir George), fresh back from the trenches of the 1st World War, joined his father’s company. Later the name was changed again to Wade Potteries Ltd as the company was merged with the other Wade companies, ending its days as part of Wade Ceramics under the Beauford Group.
I knew I was watching the end of an era. Soon to be the site for a new housing development, I wondered, as the grimy red brick walls tumbled to the ground and were scooped on to waiting trucks, what Sir George would have thought of it? And what of Jessie Van Hallen’s studio where so many of hermasterpieces first saw the light of day – all gone forever! A lot of Wade history has disappeared with the sale and distruction of the Manchester Pottery in Burslem but time moves on and so has Wade – and in this case to the bright and modern Royal Works across the road in Greenhead Street where, as I returned to my car, production continues as usual.

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