Brampton pots in the kitchen
A short history of the Brampton potteries

1: The Potteries
2: Old influences and new demands
3: Iron, copper or pottery?
4: Competition from the French
5: Acknowledgements

2: Old influences and new demands

The Brampton factories produced decorative pieces, tablewares, vast quantities of bottles and jars used for beer, spirits, ink and furniture creams and kitchenware for cooking, storage and preparation of food. Some of the shapes had been adapted from earthenware pots made previously, such as the 'pipkin', but in the second half of the nineteenth century new types of cooking pots began to appear. These pots had flat bottoms which made them eminently suitable for use in a new kitchen appliance, the coal fired range, particularly in those areas of England where coal was cheap.

Cows pot

Flat bottomed pot with cow design

Pearson's catalogueThe Brampton potters made round or oval shallow dishes with sloping sides called 'nappers' which could be used for baking puddings. Ingredients could be poured into a greased dish and baked in the oven, a much quicker process than boiling a pudding for hours. Cheap, substantial puddings were also easier once the Empire trade expanded and products such as sago, tapioca, rice and semolina arrived in the country.

Trade with the colonies, particularly Barbados, improved supplies of sugar, and when duty on sugar was abolished in the 1870s, consumption rapidly increased for its use as a preservative, a beverage sweetener, a pastry ingredient and finally as a food. In the mid nineteenth century it was also fashionable to have cold puddings, ice cream and jellies.

Beeton pudding

A pudding from Mrs Beeton's cook book

Jelly mouldAfter the 1830s jelly moulds were available in stoneware and at least a dozen different moulds were made by Pearson & Co. With the duty on sugar abolished, jam production began to expand, particularly when W.P. Hartley and Stephen Chivers went into business, and the potteries produced large quantities of jam jars, with plain, ribbed or fluted sides. The manufacture of these jars was such an important part of the factories' output that the trade report from Chesterfield in the Pottery Gazette, 1881, concentrated solely on the state of the weather. Concern is expressed by the potteries about the fruit crop while they wait for the jam producers to place their orders, 'bad weather cripples production and curtails orders.'

Some of the shapes made by the Brampton potteries are specific to these factories - the treacle jug for example, is not found outside the Midlands. Peter Brearsall mentions specially designed treacle pots made in potteries in South Yorkshire in blue transfer printed white earthenware which had screw-topped lids to keep out dust and flies, but these have no spout like the Brampton example.

Jelly mould

Jelly mould

Jelly moulds

The Brampton potteries all made bread bakers and loaf pots, another new shape encouraged by the use of the range. These pots had feet to prevent the base from touching the thick hot iron baking sheet in the oven so that the outside of loaves did not burn before the rest of it was cooked. Loaf pots were press moulded and at a greater risk of warping in the kiln than thrown pots, but the application of feet increased their stability in the firing as well as in the oven.

Open hearth cooking had been served either by a round bottomed cauldron which was suspended above, or perched on the fire, or food was cooked in a frying pan. Wealthier households enjoyed roast meat, but only the most tender, and therefore most expensive parts of meat were suitable. So much fuel was wasted in roasting that few could afford to do it and less well off families sent their food to bakers to be cooked. The coming of the range meant that more people were able to cook at home, and with the main meal moving to the end of the day, wives were able to leave food cooking in the range while they were at work. The Brampton 'Dutch' or hash pot and stew pot were eminently suitable for this type of slow oven cookery. Cheap, and probably tough, fibrous cuts of meat such as knuckles, heads and feet were made more palatable cooked in these lidded pots, producing a tasty dish with all the 'goodness' kept in.

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Loaf pots

Stew pots

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