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THE BALL CLAY INDUSTRY - 2. GROWTH

 

(Continued . . .)

 

Josiah Wedgwood visited the South West in 1791 to purchase clay for a syndicate of potters from Stoke-on-Trent.  He completed negotiations to secure supplies of Kingsteignton clay with a William Pike of Chudleigh.  One thousand two hundred tons were to be provided annually for £120 excepting under emergency, when any extra would cost 1s. 6d. per ton. During the days when clay was sold solely in its raw state, for every ton dug-an extra 2 ½ cwt. had to be added to take account of the moisture content.  A "clay ton" therefore weighed 22 ½ cwt.

In 1796 a partnership by name of Whiteway Watts and Company was established as the first local clay company.  The Watts side of the company had been extracting clay from their lands at Preston for two generations before this.  Fourteen years later the agreement was re-affirmed when Mrs. Agnes Watts entered into partnership with Mr. Samuel Whiteway of Kingsteignton, Mr. John Hatherleigh of Kingsteignton and Mr. William Mortimer of Wareham for the sole purpose of working the Watts family lands.

By 1800 the volume of clay shipped through Teignmouth had increased to 15,252 tons, the majority coming from the Kingsteignton pits.  

 

Teignmouth Creek, later Teignmouth Harbour 1821

Teignmouth Creek, later to become Teignmouth Harbour, in 1821

 

Courtesy Devon County Council

 

William Cookworthy's discovery that china clay (kaolin) provided the missing ingredient for which English potters had been searching for years to produce hard paste porcelain, led to a transfer of attention amongst leading potters to produce such bodies.  For centuries the secret of manufacturing hard paste porcelain had been known only to the Chinese.  A fall in demand for ball clay followed and the industry suffered a temporary setback.  Nevertheless by 1838 shipments through Teignmouth were rising again and had reached 19,090 tons.

A favourable climate evidently existed in the industry in the mid-19th century for in 1843 the Hackney Canal, extending from Newton Road, Kingsteignton, to the Teign Estuary, was open to transport clay from Lord Clifford's lands.  The industry was now a major employer in the district employing some 200 hands.

Kingsteignton was not the only place to benefit from the clay trade.  One of the main points used to support Teignmouth's claims for status as an independent port in 1852 was the growth of the clay cargoes.  For years Teignmouth had been classified as a creek under the port of Exeter, which had received much of the dues on clay shipments.  

 

The entrance to Teignmouth Harbour in 2004

The entrance to Teignmouth harbour - 2004

In 1853, Teignmouth celebrated its successful claim to  become an independent port but it took many years for trade to build up. In more modern times, the port has handled finished paper, paper pulp, coal, chipboard and timber in addition to clay.

©Richard J. Brine

 

CONTINUED

 

With the exception of the illustrations,

the contents of this page are the copyright property of Richard Harris

 

 

 
 
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