Old pottery works at Lambeth

There were pottery works at Lambeth on the south bank of the River Thames since Roman times and a sizeable community of potters there in Victorian times. This page outlines the involvement of the Cole family.

Although it has not been possible to trace my direct Cole ancestors to pottery work at Lambeth, this is likely to be due to the difficulty of identifying specific individuals, whose names tend to be the common ones of James, John and Charles with no identifying second given names. There certainly was a significant Cole contingent at Lambeth during Victorian times. The 1851 census gives no less than 98 Cole individuals as having been born in Lambeth. The oldest was age 71, giving a birth date of 1782. The 1841 census would have yield more if only it did not omit places of birth. What it did show, though, was that very few Coles remained living in Lambeth at that time. In contrast to Lambeth the 1851 census showed that there were 55 Cole individuals born in Islington and 5 in Lewisham - other pottery and brick producing areas where the Coles worked. (Sadly the 71 year old Cole, although bearing the family name of James, was described as a 'gentleman' (i.e. of independent means, rather than a tile-maker or brick-maker, so no conclusions can be drawn about whether he was of 'our' Cole family.)

The Colley family of potters who intermarried with our Coles certainly had a presence in Lambeth.

In the second half of the 18th century, the Lambeth potters lost out to Staffordshire potters, who developed a non porous, cream-glazed earthenware more suitable for domestic tableware. The history of pottery in Lambeth since 1815 is dominated by Doulton, although a few small potters continued there. We know for a fact that, sometime around the 1820s, the Colley family of potters moved north of the River Thames to the Tile Kilns in Green Lanes, Tottenham.

Incidentally there was a Daniel Cole of St Mary's, Lambeth, contemporary with 'our' Daniel Cole, who I hoped might have been a relative. His will was proved on 20th February 1839. His occupation, however, was not stated and the names of his legatees were not our family names. His wife was Jemima and family names appear to be Matthew, Daniel, Kezia, William ... but the old writing of the will is very difficult to transcribe.

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This website Potteries and brickyards worked by the Cole family is Pat Cryer. For applications to reproduce text or images, click here.