What type of oven was it?

The oven at the factory site of Hudson and Middleton (Longton) Ltd., was chosen for the Last Bottle Oven Firing for a number of reasons.
  • It was in working order. When the Fireman, Alfred Clough, was asked "can it be fired?" he paused. Then he declared "Yes ... Once!"
  • It was close to the Gladstone Pottery Museum - about 250 yards away. Communications would be easy.
  • It was relatively small and would consume no more than 12 tons of coal fuel
  • It was an updraught bottle oven and therefore relatively easy to fire.

The oven was and still is, since it is a Grade 2 Listed Building, the type of oven known as an  Updraught Stack or Cone Oven. More here> on oven types.

This type of oven has its chimney stack built directly onto the shoulders of the crown of the oven. It has no separate hovel. This is the form developed when a series or row of ovens are grouped together under one roof, the stacks rising through the roof of the building.

These ovens are solid and compact but they tended to be more difficult to repair and took longer to cool down.

The oven used for the Last Bottle Oven Firing 1978 had the chimney stack built onto the shoulders of the crown of the oven and it protruded through the roof of the surrounding workshops.

Cross section diagram. Drawing and photo: Terry Woolliscroft Collection

In comparison, the diagram below shows the layout of an Updraught Hovel Oven. It is the type of oven you can see and explore today at Gladstone Pottery Museum in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent. The diagram below shows that the oven itself is separate from its stack.

Cross section diagram and external view of an oven at Gladstone Pottery Museum, Longton.
Drawing and photo: Terry Woolliscroft Collection

The two ovens were operated in essentially the same way.

Technical Spec - The oven for the last firing

Diameter - 14 feet
Height to shoulder - 14 feet
Rise from shoulder to top of crown - 2.5 feet
Number of firemouths - 8
Number of saggars in the fill - 1250

Use - originally for China Biscuit.
For the Last Bottle Oven Firing it was used as a Glost Oven