Through the trees and over the water sits a building with an interesting history…
Did you know that between the years 1942 and 1956 a pottery operated on Grove Farm? The pottery created pots to be sold by the Partnership in our department stores. Started during the difficult years of the Second World War, the venture encapsulated the creativity and practicality of the Partnership alongside the talent of the man at the helm of Odney Pottery, John Bew.
The Partnership gave John Bew what was a nearly derelict site to develop into a pottery and living quarters. At this time, Spedan had been exploring the idea of providing work for disabled people in workshops and the pottery initially provided employment for men that had left or been unable to join the army for medical reasons. These men were trained in art of pottery by Bew and worked to a very high standard, displaying their wares at the Festival of Britain in 1951 where Bew had more pots on display than any other craftsman potter. Odney Pottery was also been purchased by members of the Royal Family and displayed in the US embassy in London demonstrating its prestige.
Despite these successes, Bew’s relationship with the Partnership became strained over time as he sought to create pottery that reflected his own ideals rather than creating what Partnership buyers thought that customers wanted In 1954, the continuance of the pottery became even more perilous as the government’s regulations restricting foreign imports of pottery was coming to an end and cheaper imported pottery meant that competition was high.
John Bew sadly took his life on November 22nd 1954. His wife believed that his fear for the pottery’s future and that of the potters he worked with had caused him to fall into a deep depression. The pottery continued under new leadership but closed its doors in 1956. However, the legacy of John Bew and his group of potters lives on today, with Odney Pottery becoming highly collectible.
The Partnership’s Heritage Centre now sits on the site of the Odney Pottery preserving the story of the pottery for years to come.