Littleborough’s History TOP TOP TOP


All 3 kilns were located and part excavated together with associated flues.

All reflected differences in construction materials, size and design and only limited foundations remained. Removal of demolition rubble revealed the exit flue for the hot gases as well as some of the firing holes. More work was undertaken on Kiln K1 whereas much of the other kilns was left unexcavated for future archaeological studies. The exit flue from the kilns was traced for much of its route to the earliest chimney C1. It is likely that the flue was extended  to Chimney C2 located near the top of the hill.

The flue between kilns and chimney passed under a couple of buildings which appeared to be associated with preparing the clay for moulding into pipes and other terra cotta items as well as bricks. The equipment in these buildings may well have been powered by the nearby water wheel.

Only limited work was undertaken on the main building but again a reasonable impression of what took place can be seen through the pictures of Starring Pottery. Whilst the site had been flattened one lucky find was a well preserved flue. It was thought it may have linked the main works with Chimney C2 but this could not be proved - see picture below.

The Pottery Plan as drawn by Peter Cryer based on map of 1847/48  (NOT TO SCALE) Plan aligned north (top) south (bottom)  For a plan drawn up during and after the excavations download here TOP


Throughout the excavations there were bricks with ‘Blackstone Edge’ imprinted on them, many in extremely good condition - see below. The pottery,  made a wide range of items including pipes of various sizes, chimney pots and the items pictured below. These heavy ceramics (refractory items) were most certainly  made in a mould as internally they show the finger prints of the workers (possibly children or women) who made them on the sides and the interior strengthening structure. Their use is unclear but it is thought that those shown in the centre photos and sketch were intended for the top of a chimney . The other may have had a similar use or be part of a fountain base or similar.

Details on Whittaker Brick & Tile works

The works consisted of 3 kilns (1 large and 2 smaller),  counting house, moulding sheds, steam engine and boiler together with water wheel and associated machinery, The kilns were round and assumed to be of the traditional style with firing holes and access openings at ground level (see Starring Pottery for examples . Salt was added to provide the glazing on the tubes and bricks.

Advert in Rochdale Observer 4th March 1871 - to let untenanted Pottery Sheds, kilns and other buildings belonging thereto. Another advert 6 months later included the Pottery as well as valuable clay and coal mines.

It would appear that thee was no response to the previous adverts and on 20th September 1873 it was announced “to Tile and Fire-brick Companies, Mortar Mill Proprietors, Builders others” instructions to sell in the occupation Mr Harry Magson the under mentioned effects:-

Clay Grinding machines with basins, 2 crushers, 6 ft 10 inch Water Wheel complete with shafts and gearing etc with other items of plant and tools together with office equipment.

The works is illustrated by the sketch plan below.