Leeds Pottery was originally founded in Hunslet, a village just outside Leeds, in around 1756. In its early years it was owned by members of two families, both called Green, who were then joined by a Lancashire businessman, William Hartley, giving the company the name under which it became famous Hartley Greens & Co. Rapid expansion followed and by 1790 the Pottery employed 150 people and its products were exported throughout Europe and as far afield as Russia and America.
In the early 19th century, faced with fierce competition from overseas and changing fashions in tableware, the Pottery began to struggle. It underwent several changes of ownership, reflected in the company name which became Wainwright & Co, then Stephen & James Chappell, Warburton & Britton and lastly Richard Britton & Sons. It closed down in 1881 and the buildings were demolished. In 1888 production of Leedsware was restarted by James Wraith Senior, who had worked at Leeds Pottery in his youth. He used the old designs and marked his products “Leeds Pottery. This business was carried on by his sons until 1957.
Hartley Greens & Co produced several kinds of pottery but was particularly famous for its Creamware. This was a new type of earthenware made from white Cornish clay combined with a translucent glaze to produce its characteristic pale cream colour. Creamware was perfect for making the elegant and highly decorative tableware in demand in the Georgian age. Although it was also made by many other companies, the commercial success and outstanding quality of the Leeds product meant that in time all Creamware came to be popularly known as “Leedsware”.
The next revival of Leeds Pottery began in 1983 when Leeds City Council started up a workshop for the disabled, making reproductions of pieces from its museum collections. When funding dried up, the Council was obliged to sell the business into the private sector and production was moved to Stoke-on-Trent, where raw materials and a suitably skilled workforce were available. The company then passed into the ownership of Mr John Croft in 1992 when it once again adopted the name Hartley Greens & Co. In 2011 by Denby Pottery, the Derbyshire based manufacturer who also own the nearby Burleigh Pottery. Committed to the unique handcrafted ceramics of Hartley Greens & Co we hope Leedsware is in for a very bright future.