First established by local farmer Thomas Sharpe in 1821, the site on which the museum stands is believed to be the only surviving sanitary ware works site in the country. Originally the site manufactured domestic pottery, much of which was exported to America in the late 19th century to meet the needs of the burgeoning European settlers in that continent.
During the 1850’s, for public health reasons there was an ‘explosion’ in the sanitary ware market and the local clay was ideal for the production of such products. This, together with the patenting of the successful ‘rim flush’ toilet here at Sharpe’s led to the factory concentrating on sanitary, ceasing production of ‘pots’ in 1900.
The factory flourished, along with many other local sanitary ware makers and sewer pipe manufacturers, until the 1950’s. The coming of the Clean Air Acts around that time required new techniques and greater regulation for the environment. Sharpe’s factory had never really modernised and it became apparent it could not survive in this ‘modern’ world, it finally closed in 1967.
Despite attempts to revitalise the site it was in state of disrepair when the Trust took the opportunity to gain outside funding which has enabled the full restoration you see today.
Sharpe’s Pottery Heritage and Arts Trust.
Registered Charity No: 1077086