Hundreds visit for Heritage Open Days
|For the first time in many a year, the pottery buildings were alive with throngs of people for the Heritage Open Days on 11th and 12th of September. Almost 500 turned up over the two days to witness the changes that are taking place in restoring these historic buildings for a prosperous future.|
There was much for the visitors to see: Potters at work; displays of the site's history; exhibitions of products from the pottery's past plus items from the current range. The West Street Potters were now fully "in residence" with a potter at work almost non-stop. Martin Ings, the Harris' potter, was also hard at work producing the traditional owl jugs before an appreciative audience.
Martin also had for sale a limited edition of special Long Tom pots made with some of the original Wrecclesham clay from the pottery site. The pit is now worked out and built over but Martin had managed to obtain a limited supply while new drainage and service trenches were being dug during the building work.
This will probably be the last of this wonderful warm terracotta clay to come out of the site and these pots will undoubtedly become collector's items.
Elsewhere on site, Farnham Trust trustees were on hand to answer visitors' questions and point out various aspects of pottery complex which could otherwise go unnoticed. In the glaze room, which unfortunately is unsafe to allow visitors to enter, a display of traditional glazed ware had been arranged in front of the wonderful glazed tile wall. This could be seen through the open yard window, creating a glimpse of how the pottery appeared when the trust first took it over.
Philip Harris, too, was pleased with the way the weekend went. Sufficient orders were taken to generate work for the pottery for several months.
Later in September, the West Street Potters started their pottery classes at this new venue. After a year without a home, it was good for them to be able to pass on the traditional skills in such an appropriate place.
A shiny new roof for the main building
|Our builders were back again in August to weatherproof the worst of the existing roofs before the weather broke for the winter.
The roof in question is one of the largest in the complex and covers the building containing the Fancy Loft and clay preparation area. Originally erected over 80 years ago, it was only built strongly enough to bear the weight of a corrugated iron roof. Despite its age, the roof had survived remarkably well, only showing serious leaks through the surrounding valleys.
Work on this area had always been a priority, though, to prevent further damage to the structure. At first plans were made to provide a new tiled roof. However, due to the need to strengthen the supporting walls and completely replace the roof trusses, this was dismissed.
Once the listing status was achieved, it was felt best to replace the roof with the same material as used previously. Corrugated is not so widely used in the modern age, and the builder, Colin Poulter, had to travel over 30 miles in order to find a supplier with stock of the correct gauge.
Mr. Poulter says that, while he has fitted secondhand corrugated iron to agricultural buildings, he cannot previously fitting such a roof to this quality of building. The sheets have been screwed in place at present to allow their easy removal for the installation of insulation if needed later.
Over the years, the original had mellowed to a lovely rich rust colour. The new, in contrast, glares back at you in the sun. The plan is to allow the galvanising to weather somewhat before the application of a coat of black bitumastic paint, for which the original showed evidence.
Pottery visits local school
|Just before the end of the local schools' summer term, the Farnham Trust arranged for potter Martin Ings to visit St. Peter's School at Wrecclesham. This school, the nearest to the pottery site, would have been attended by many of the workforce of the pottery in years gone by, and by their children. In fact today there are still descendants of the craftsmen at the school.|
Thus it was very fitting that Martin Ings (pictured), who carries on that tradition today and is himself a former pupil of the school, could return to give current pupils an insight into the potter's art. The school has a strong art department and pottery is a special favourite.
During the day, Martin took small groups of pupils and helped them to make free-standing owl plaques, the owl being a symbol of the Farnham Pottery. The children were then allowed to make a piece of their own design, and this resulted in a tremendous variety of subjects being attempted. Once the works of art have dried sufficiently they will be taken to the pottery's kiln for firing and the children will be encouraged to visit the pottery in order to collect their finished pieces.
Work starts for West Street Potters
|The next phase of the conversion of the pottery buildings towards the eventual goal of a Ceramics Centre began at the very end of June.
The same building contractors who had been involved in the work to provide new premises for the existing business of A. Harris & Son started work on the north range of the main block, firstly to stabilise the structure and then to provide temporary accommodation for the West Street Potters.
This group of art ceramicists were made homeless about a year ago when their workshops in part of the Farnham campus of the Surrey Institute of Art and Design complex were needed for other purposes. At the time their need of a home for their equipment was urgent and the Farnham Trust was able to step in and offer storage in the pottery outbuildings.
However this was only ever seen as a stopgap, temporary measure as the group needed a new home from which to run their workshops and classes in order to ensure their survival. Until the trust has finalised its plans for the pottery and raised the necessary financial support, it will not be possible to offer the potters a permanent area.
So that the group can restart their classes in the autumn term and thereby generate a continued income stream, it was decided to offer them a temporary home on the ground floor of this part of the building. The necessary work is expected to take some five weeks, so the potters should be able to start moving in their equipment during August, well in time for a September start to their classes.
It is hoped that the West Street Potters will be "in residence" for the Heritage Open Days in September when the public will be welcome to visit this historic Victorian site.
Page last updated : 16 October 1999
Colour photograph scanning courtesy Hibberd Photographic 8 South Street, Farnham, Surrey - 01252 715620
The Farnham (Building Preservation) Trust Ltd
|Chairman: David Graham FSA||Secretary: Mrs S. Farrow|
Company registered in England No. 940781
Registered Office: 60 West Street, Farnham, Surrey, GU9 7EH.
Charity No. 257954