The Pettit Pottery, Folly Lane, Walthamstow

The history of the Pettit Pottery which used to be in Folly Lane, Higham Hill, Walthamstow is bound up with Cole ancestry. It was started by John Cole. He was related by marriage to the Pettits who took the pottery over shortly afterwards. This page gives an overview of the pottery's history.

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The Pettit/Cole relationship

The Pettits and the Coles were related by marriage. Mary Colley, who married John Cole, was the sister of Ann Colley, who married William Henry Pettit (son of Henry Pettit and Mary). There were less than two years in age between the sisters, so we can assume that they were close. We know from census and rating records - see the side menu - that both the Cole and the Pettit families lived and worked on site at the potteries in Green Lanes, Tottenham (the Tile Kilns) as did Mary and Ann's father, James Sharp Colley.

On site at the Pettit Pottery in Walthamstow, c1900

On site at the Pettit Pottery in Walthamstow, c1900.

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How the purchase price was raised

When James Sharp Colley died in 1863, he left £600 (a significant sum in those days) equally between his six children. This provided a nest egg for John and Mary and William and Anne and probably an impetus for both couples to branch out on their own. This was probably exacerbated when, only a month after James Sharp Colley’s death, Anne herself died suddenly of apoplexy (a stroke). She was only 52 years old and, like her father and Daniel and his wife Ann, was buried at Abney Park Cemetery, the local cemetery for the Tile Kilns. Anne’s death would probably have given added impetus to John, Mary and William to get away from the Tile Kilns where they had lived as a family and brought up their children.

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The start of the Pettit Potteries

Precisely where William Pettit went when he left the Tile Kilns is unclear. Anecdotal evidence suggests that he went to set up the Pettit Potteries in Walthamstow, but this was not immediately the case, as the 1871 census for Walthamstow shows that it was John Cole who, no longer at the Tile Kilns and not yet at White Hart Lane, was actually at Walthamstow. He was listed as a pottery proprietor (flower pots), living with his family at Cambrian Cottages, Walthamstow. George Pettit, William’s son, was listed as a potter, living with his wife Julia and daughters Clara and Annie at 3 Cambrian Cottages, Walthamstow, next but one to John. William Pettit did appear 10 years later in the 1881 census as a potter with a new wife Louisa and living in the Cambrian Cottages block at number 6.

Early photo of William Henry Pettit  Later photo of William Henry Pettit (1809 - 1891)

William Henry Pettit (1809 - 1891) An early photo and a later one

So it was John Cole rather than William or George Pettit who started the potteries at Higham Hill, Walthamstow. However, John vacated them shortly afterwards for White Hart Lane, whereupon ownership was taken over by the Pettits. Whether or not this was always the intention, it is impossible to say.

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The end of the Pettit Potteries

According to a newspaper cutting in the Vestry Museum at Walthamstow, the pottery started in 1868 and closed in 1943 during World War II because it couldn't get the coal to power the kilns. Both the date and the reason are open to question, as London potteries generally ceased production earlier in the war so that the lights from the kilns would not signal positions to enemy bombers. Sales continued from stocks.

The front of the Pettit Pottery in Walthamstow, c1900

The front of the Pettit Pottery in Walthamstow, c1900.

Another error in one of the books on Walthamstow history is that the Pettits were previously operating their London Pottery in Harringay. That pottery was never known as the London Pottery, neither was it ever owned by the Pettits, who were previously working alongside the Coles at the Potteries in Green Lanes (now Harringay) (the Tile Kilns).

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Family photographs

John and Mary Cole and William and Ann Pettit were a family well after the development of photography, so I hope is that someone with family photos may contact me. I am fortunate to be in touch with four Pettit descendants who have supplied some very interesting material. However, no photos have yet appeared of their Cole cousins.

Pettit family picnic 1911

The Pettit family picnic, summer 1911. Click here for a larger image.

All the photographs on this page are courtesy of Adrian Pettit, Chris Pettit and Nina Singer. More are available to Pettit descendants on request. As a sample, the Pettit family picnic photograph was taken in the summer of 1911. The thumbnails open up to larger images from which the individuals can be recognised.

There is a key by number - see below - to who is who. For the position of the numbers in the picture, click here.

The individuals in the picnic photograph are:
1. Edgar Harwood, b.1874, husband of Annie Pettit and brother of Ruth Harwood
2. Mary B..., a cousin
3. William Pettit, b.1877, son of George Pettit
4. Walter Pettit, b.1887, son of George Pettit
5. Clara Pettit, b.1867, daughter of George Pettit
6. Annie Pettit, b.1869, daughter of George Pettit
7. Grace, wife of George Pettit
8. Leslie Pettit, b.1906, son of George and Grace
9. Bert Pettit, b.1875, son of George Pettit
10. Julia Pettit, b.c1847, wife of George Pettit
11. Isaac Pettit, b.1850, brother of George Pettit
12. George Pettit, b.1842
13. Alice B..., relative of Julia
14. Florrie B..., relative of Julia
15. Sarah, b.c1848, wife of Isaac Pettit
16. Mabel Staines, b.1898, daughter of Clara
17. Grace Pettit, b.1903, daughter of Joe and Emily
18. Joe Pettit, b.1871, son of George
19. Emily, b.1878, Joe Pettit's wife
20. Henry Pettit, b.1900, son of Joe and Emily
21. Mabel Pettit, b.1885, daughter of George, wife of Fred Wildman
22. Mary Pettit, b.1878, daughter of Isaac Pettit, wife of Arthur Wildman
23. Donald Pettit, b.1908, son of Henry Pettit and Ruth
24. Fred Wildman, b.1886, husband of Mabel Pettit
25. Ruth Pettit (born Harwood) b.1878, wife of Henry Pettit
26. Edie Stains, b.1901, daughter of Clara
27. Alice Pettit, b.1885, daughter of Isaac
28. Henry Pettit, b.1879, son of Isaac
29. Laurence Wildman, b.1910, son of Alice and Arthur
30. Arthur Wildman, b.1881, husband of Alice, then Mary
Wedding photo of Henry William (b.1879) and Ruth Augusta Harwood, married 8th June 1907

Wedding photo of Henry William (b.1879) and Ruth Augusta Harwood, married 8th June 1907. Click here for a larger image.

The wedding photograph shows:

1 Henry William PETTIT b.1879 (Groom/son of Isaac)
2 Ruth Augusta HARWOOD b.1878 (Bride/daughter of Jane Harwood)
3 Mary PETTIT b.1878 (daughter of Isaac/was 2nd wife of Arthur Wildman)
4 Alice PETTIT b.1886 (daughter of Isaac/was 1st wife of Arthur Wildman)
5 ?
6 ?
7 ? Gertrude HARWOOD b.1881 (sister of Ruth)
8 ? Annie PETTIT b.1869 (daughter of George/wife of Edgar Harwood)
9 ? William PETTIT b.1877 (son of George)
10 ? Edgar HARWOOD b.1874 (husband of Annie Pettit)
11 ?
12 ?
13 ? Arthur Wildman b.1881 (married 1st Alice Pettit and 2nd Mary Pettit)
14 ? Mabel PETTIT b.1885 (daughter of George/wife of Fred Wildman)
15 ?
16 ?
17 ?
18 ?
19 Jane Elizabeth HARWOOD, nee Baughan b.1842 (mother of Ruth and Gertrude)
20 ?
21 ? Henry PETTIT b.1900 (son of Joe and Emily Pettit)
22 ?
23 ? Joe PETTIT b.1872 (son of George/husband of Emily Pettit, nee Howell)
24 ? William STAINS b.1867 (husband of Clara Pettit)
25 ? Clara PETTIT b.1867 (daughter of George/wife of William Stains)
26 George PETTIT b.1842 (son of William Henry Pettit and Ann Colley/brother of Isaac)
27 ?
28 ?
29 Isaac PETTIT b.1850 (father of Groom Henry William Pettit/brother of George)
30 Julia PETTIT, nee Bellows b.c1847 (wife of George)
31 Sarah PETTIT, nee Randall b.c1848 (wife of Isaac)
32 ?
33 ?

If you can identify anyone else, please let us know.

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An unanswered question

There is a 1901 census entry which may be important because it links the name Daniel Cole, with Tottenham and Walthamstow. It is: Daniel Cole, head, 33 born Holloway, a tun room man at the brewery, living at 50 Edward Street with his wife Gertrude 33 born at Buckhurst Hill, Essex, and three children Gertrude 8, born at Tottenham, Thomas 3 born Walthamstow and Ivy 1 month born Walthamstow. Where, if at all, does this Daniel fit in with our family history?

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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.