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124 JAMES CLEWS.
the business was carried on by them, until William Ridgway's
death in 1864. The former then entered into partnership with L. J. Abington under the style of Ridgway and Abington. This
partnership was dissolved in 1866, and E. J. Ridgway built the
Bedford Works at Shelton. Mr. Sparks, the firm's London
agent, and Mr. Ridgway's two sons, John and E. A., were admitted
into partnership in 1872, and the firm name was Ridgway,
Sparks & Ridgway, E. J. Ridgway retiring. He died in 1896.
Upon the death of Mr. Sparks, in 1878, the name was changed to
Ridgways. The products consist mostly of earthenware and
stoneware, both of excellent quality.
Of the former it is sufficient criterion to say that several of
the dinnerware patterns have been of late years reissued, meeting
with great success, the beautiful engraving being a noteworthy
feature. The same remark may be applied to the stoneware
jugs, which are artistically conceived and well modeled, the
originals dating from 1834. These reissues are valuable, as they
tend to show the excellence of manufacture the firm had attained
seventy-rive years ago; an excellence they are jealous to maintain.
THE COBRIDGE WORKS.
Cobridge lies midway between Hanley and Burslem. Works
were erected there in 1808 by Bucknall & Stevenson, who were
succeeded by A. Stevenson. In 1816 to 1820 they passed into the
hands of James Clews, and he continued them until 1829. The
works remained closed until 1836, when they were reopened by
Robinson, Wood & Brownfield, Brownfield being the sole surviving
partner in 1850. In 1871 his son, W. E. Brownfield, was
admitted as a partner, and the firm name became W. Brownfield
& Sons. W. Brownfield died in 1873, and shortly after it was,
in the interests of the work people converted into a co-operative
company, known as the Brownfield Guild Pottery. The most
interesting phase of this old pottery was the occupancy by James
Clews, who issued a large number of American historical subjects
printed in a deep blue, the best known of which are "The
Landing of Lafayette," and the States series. Clews came to this
country in 1837 and built a factory at Troy, Ind., but even with
the assistance of the English potters brought here it was a dismal
failure and he returned to England. One son remained here, the
financier, Henry Clews. James Carr, the veteran New York
potter, worked for Clews and afterwards employed many of
the potters from the Troy factory.
The best period of the Brownfield pottery was between 1870
and 1880, when, under the directorship of Mr. Jahn, an artist of
ability, the productions were considerably improved and successfully
competed with the more well-known firms of the district.
When the Guild pottery was instituted F. A. Rhead, who had
had his training at Mintons and Wedgwoods, and later served
as art director for Bodleys, was the art director, but the cumbrous
committee of workingmen who constituted the management failed
to understand his artistic instincts, and what had been conceived
by Mr. Brownfield for the good and betterment of all concerned
ended in disastrous failure. Dressed in a little brief authority,
each shareholding workman considered himself an absolute dictator.
There was much ludicrous quarreling, and the whole proceedings
rivaled the merriest opera bouffe.