What I did on my holidays

When I were a lad after the holidays each day after the summer holidays you were made to ‘come out to the front’ and do a little talk ‘what I did in the holidays’.Yes miss well here goes.We were not allowed out of the country so we went to Christchurch Dorset, my favourite place. With rain forecasted for alternate days we planned visits around this,the first rainy day was spent in Salisbury.I wanted to see the ceramics in the museum, the Verwood pottery was stunning,it really is wonderful.DSC_0012A large crock,a butter churn that would have had a wooden plunger,then an unusual for Verwood a costrel or flask,is this where the cowboys water bottle comes from ?

This is what the Verwood costrel looks like, they’ve earned the nickname Dorset owls.



The really dark stuff is from Wiltshire these are replica’s by Katherine Pleydell-Boverie.

Sorry about the reflection,this is the Verwood collection, rare to have so much preserved,it was used and got broken.


On one of the days we used the day wisely and went to visit Tim Hurn the woodfirer, on the way we stopped at Beaminster, this picture shows that it wasn’t all gloom and wet.


We got to Tim’s place as he was unloading a kiln so there was a mass of lovely stuff to look at but I was so busy chatting I forgot to take photos. He is very widely travelled and showed me a buddha mould he got from India,it made a little Buddha for pilgrims, Tim said they made thousands a day he said it looked like clapping. His pottery is in stunning countryside just below Pilsden pen a stone age settlement on a steep hill.


Taking advantage of the good weather we went to the beach just along from Hugh Fearnley-whittingport for a gourmet cup of tea cooked over Siberian pine with a friason of light ewes milk. Really just builders tea dun on the Kelly kettle.The beach there is the small shingle end of Chesil beach,long shore drift grades the pebble size.The main reason for the beach visit, free clay, whitish firing called Chard clay .No rain hurrah.


Thursday was supposed to be rainy so we went to the brick Museum at Bursledon near Southampton.It is run by volunteers and opens only on Thursdays and event days at weekends. It is the only brick museum in England and is a building site at the moment. But when the works are finished it will be much better.We did get a proper tour and the inside story.It closed in 1974 and was rescued in 1994, the site was abandoned when the clay ran out which is usual for brickworks. On the event days they fire up the steam engine and start the pug mill and all the other stuff that makes the bricks.The pugmill was attended by boys who would pick shells out of the clay whilst the big screw type blades were turning,made me shudder.Some lost bits of fingers and hands, elf n safety was not thought of then.


They were making bricks all year round not just in the summer,they used the waste heat from the steam engine to power under floor heating,drying the bricks.They made 20 million bricks a year and were the forerunners of large scale brick walloping. There wasn’t a bloke walloping clay into moulds though,it was extruded in a brick sized slab and wire cut mechanically. The museum has collections of brick stuff donated from around the country.


There is one bank of continuous firing Hoffman Kiln  preserved ,taking 30 000 bricks per chamber and there are 12 chambers and when in production there was four banks.A massive works,using a lot of clay in the end the clay was gathered a mile away from the brick machine and kiln.



A very interesting out of the rain visit.

On the way home we popped into the Weald and Downland museum for a themed weekend, ‘Medicine and mortality’ ,the  tudor group were there and my pots were being used for various jobs.We met Ruth Goodman from telly, all dressed up.We also met a very clever lady that was distilling oils from herbs,her concoctions were so pungent .We were given a whiff of her pot pourri made in 1994 still very strong smelling.It was used for only a couple of hours a day and kept in a sealed container, we’ve got it wrong today.

This lady is making soap by washing ash into one of my bowls which makes ‘lye’ this has fat and pumice added to it,sometimes perfumes.


Eventually we got home to loads of wet dirty smelly clothes and the usual after burn of holiday,we had a good time, next stop Japan if all goes well, it’s very much like Dorset,different accent though.


About timbartell

I was born in a flat in Lambeth the name of which was, Wedgewood house,China walk estate.I'd forgotten this until recently,it dawned on me the significance of the names after I had become interested in pottery/ceramics.I think of myself as a potter in the most practical sense,making pots for people to use.I have never had any formal training,I took it up when the table tennis class was full.My first flat was in the same road as a pottery centre, Elmwood pottery, the best in London, 18 sessions a week and a real community. I love my craft and bore everyone with it, so am grabbing this chance to bore more people via this blog.There may be the odd interesting item, here's hoping.
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2 Responses to What I did on my holidays

  1. Lovely blog and very interesting Tim.

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