Pottery and brickworks conducted at Nonsuch, Ewell, Cheam and Epsom

by Messrs Waghorn, Swallow, and Stone

Plan of The Nonsuch Pottery
Plan of The Nonsuch Pottery (Click image to enlarge)
Image Source Bourne Hall Museum

This article sets out to add detail to the references found in The Ceramic Art of Great Britain from pre-historic times down to the present day, being a history of 'the ancient and modern pottery and porcelain works of' the kingdom and of their productions of every class, published in 1878, as follows: -
Nonsuch Pottery. A pottery existed here in the early part of last century [mentioned in 1708], but about, or soon after, 1790, the bed of clay having been exhausted, it was discontinued. About 1800 the steward of the Nonsuch estates, on which the pottery was situated, gave permission for a new pottery to be established wherever the clay could be found, and soon afterwards the present 'Nonsuch Pottery' was opened in Nonsuch Park. It was founded by Mr. William Richard Waghorn, who was joined in partnership by his son. This firm continued the works until 1851, when they were transferred to Mr. Swallow, who had, until that time, been their foreman. By him and his partner, Mr. Stone, the business was continued under the style of 'Stone and Swallow', and by them a pottery principally for the manufacture of fire-bricks was established at Epsom. Mr. Swallow died in 1865 or 1866, and since then his partner, Mr. Stone, continued the works alone: they are known as the 'Nonsuch Pottery' or as 'Stone's Ewell and Epsom Potteries'. The goods manufactured by Mr. W. Waghorn were 'Italian tiling' used very extensively in the buildings of the time and remarkable for their strength and durability; ornamental roof tiles, ridge tiles 'Nonsuch Fire Bricks', 'Nonsuch Fire Loam', paving and other tiles, moulded bricks, &c., for Gothic bulldinqs, ornamented chimney-pots, pipes, flower-pots and vases, &c., and on their lists was a view of the old Nonsuch Palace, with an historical notice of the same. At the present time the same descriptions of goods are produced the mark, where used, being simply the words 'Stone & Co.'.

A pottery was worked here, about 1840, by Messrs. Waghorn, of the Ewell Pottery, but on their retiring, in 1851, was transferred to Mr. Baker, by whom it was worked until 1868, when he was succeeded by Messrs. Cowley & Aston. It was closed in 1869. In the same year another pottery was opened by Mr. Henry Clark, by whom it is still carried on, for the manufacture of ornamental and plain flower-pots, rustic fern-stands, vases, chimney-pots, drain-tiles, &c. They are of a bright red colour, and when a mark is used, it is simply 'Henry Clark, Cheam Pottery'."
Clamps where Tudor bricks had been burnt are reported to have been revealed, close to Cheam Road, Ewell, when the Ewell By-Pass was cut. According to the Victoria County History, Leland had identified Cuddington and Nonsuch Park as the site of pits for obtaining fire-clay and "subsequently Nonsuch pottery and tiles were known but they were in reality made in Ewell". Elsewhere the Ewell brickyard is identified as at or near the Nonsuch brick works between London Road and Vicarage Lane in Ewell [OS XIII 14].

Extract from the 1913 OS map.
Extract from the 1913 OS map.

In his book, A Short History of Ewell and Nonsuch,1931, Cloudesley S Willis recalled: - "The turnpike gate stood on the site of Woodgate. At the top of the hill was W R Waghorn's pottery, where he made garden vases and ornamental tiling as well as the best fire bricks. Leland wrote that here 'is a vaine of fine yerth to make moldes for goldesmithies and casters of metale, that is a loade of it sold for a croune of golde. Like yerthe to this is not found in all Englande'. The brickyard is no longer worked; and a pleasance has been formed therein a natural setting of trees and water."

Ewell brickyard produced deep black rubbing bricks as well as dark and bright red 'rubbers'. [Rubbing bricks are relatively soft bricks that historically have been used to create fine cut and rubbed, and carved brickwork. Hand cut brickwork is almost as old as brick making itself. The skills and techniques are similar to stone-masonry except clay blocks are much softer. 'Rubber' blocks are rubbed or sanded and mechanically sawn to a rectangular 'ashlar' shape. The cut block is then placed between two identical timber templates cut accurately to the profile required. The block is clamped in position and a twisted wire blade in a traditional bow saw is used to cut through the brick around the profile manually.] Black 'Ewell cutters' were used, for example, in the construction of The Merchant Seamans Orphan's Asylum at Snaresbrook. The Bourne Hall Museum has a buff coloured brick stamped 'Stone and Swallow' taken from the Hop-pole Inn, West Street, Ewell.

Watercolours of the Nonsuch Pottery and Brickworks
Watercolours of the Nonsuch Pottery and Brickworks
Watercolours of the Nonsuch Pottery and Brickworks
Watercolours of the Nonsuch Pottery and Brickworks
The kiln shown appears to be a Victorian "Hoffman Continuous kiln"
which would have contained a ring of separate chambers linked
by trace holes through which the the fire passed.
For more details see John Woodforde's book 'Bricks to build a house'
Image Source Bourne Hall Museum

William Richard Waghorn, son of James and Ann, had been baptised at Ewell on 24 March 1807. A partnership involving one of his sons has not been identified but a joint venture with Robert Brown of Ewell as brick and tile makers, potters and farmers was dissolved on 15 September 1841.

Robert Brown's claim to fame lies in his 'Patent Improved Garden Pot' with hollow sides "so as to hold water which by constant and slow percolation keeps up a uniform degree of coolness as well as humidity".

Brown's Patent Improved Garden Pot
Brown's Patent Improved Garden Pot
The Mechanic's Magazine Volume 38

William Richard Waghorn died and was interred at St Mary's churchyard on 14 June 1850. [Reg, Epsom 4/1850]

Previously, on 26 March 1850, W R Waghorn, of Ewell, brick and tile maker, had assigned the goodwill and other assets of the brick and tile making business to John Stone of Ewell, builder, and Matthew Swallow of Ewell, brick-maker, for a consideration of £1,000. John Stone is believed to have been a son of George Stone, corn and coal merchant, farmer and sometime Vestry Clerk of Ewell. Around 1844, John Stone carried on business in Ewell as a carpenter 'nearly opposite the Green Man public house' whilst we have already been told Swallow had been Waghorn's foreman.

The assets acquired by Messrs Stone & Swallow included : - 'Messuage and cottage with a stable between them and a brick ground of 9 acres adjoining in Ewell and Cuddington: field of meadow or pasture, 3 acres, adjoining, the brick ground; right of access with men and carts to and from a nearby sandpit, for the purpose of digging sand for use in the brick yard, together with all the buildings in which the business of brick and tile making was carried out. During April 1850, William Francis Gamul Farmer of Nonsuch Park granted the brick-makers a 21 year lease of the brickfield. A formal partnership agreement between Stone and Swallow followed, dated 18 February 1852.

During 1859, the railway was extended from Ewell West to Epsom and Messrs Stone and Swallow acquired land between East Street, Epsom and the line to establish an additional brickworks. In addition they started to provide homes for their workers on what became known as Providence Row (Place). The development has become a conservation area.

Epsom Brickworks on the 1866 OS Map
Epsom Brickworks on the 1866 OS Map,
the southerly development became known as "Nonsuch Brick Works"
click image to enlarge

Matthew Swallow, senior, died, 23 June 1866, aged 66 [Reg. Epsom 6/1866]. His son, Matthew Swallow, junior, had married Ellen Newhouse on 5 November 1849 [Reg. Epsom 12/1849]. His wife had been born at Coltishall and they moved to Norfolk, where his demise was recorded to have taken place, 3 January 1867, aged 34 [Reg. Tunstead 9/1866].

During 1867, the firm advertised as 'Brick and tile makers, potters, and manufacturers of stoneware, socket drain-pipes and nonsuch fire bricks.'

Nonsuch Brickworks Nonsuch Brickworks
Nonsuch Brickworks
Image Source Bourne Hall Museum

On 1 November 1875, Ellen Swallow, widow of Matthew Swallow, junior, and her son Matthew William Swallow sold their half share of various assets of the Swallow and Stone partnership to John Stone.

The death of John Stone, aged 62, appears to have been registered at Epsom for the March Quarter of 1878 - interred at St Mary's Ewell 26 February 1878. Under his Will, dated 21 December 1875, the business passed on 3 May 1880 to Ellen Jessy Keen, nee Stone, William John Stone and Frederick Steward Stone, all of Ewell.

Brian Bouchard © 2011

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