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Our history begins in 1806, when a seam of clay was found at Denby during the construction of a road to link the industrial towns of Derbyshire. William Bourne, a local entrepreneur, examined the clay and recognised its exceptional qualities.
Production of salt-glazed pottery started at Denby in 1809 from a number of small buildings on the site of the clay bed. William Bourne gave the onerous task of running the business to his youngest son, Joseph.
Known as 'Joseph Bourne' the pottery prospered and soon built up an international reputation for its quality bottles and jars. As glass was very expensive in the early 19th century these stoneware bottles were essential for holding commodities like preserves, pickles, ink, polish, mineral water, medicines and even ginger beer.
Joseph was not only ambitious with the commercial acumen to prosper but he was also an innovator and patented many of his ideas for improved firing methods in salt glazed kilns. Salt glazing was a popular method of decorating stoneware at this time. Common salt was thrown onto the kiln fires when the embers were at their hottest. The salt vapour combined with the surface of the pot to produce a shiny brown surface coating.