22 August 2011

A Spode Throwing Wheel

This photograph was taken in March 2010 at Gladstone Pottery Museum in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent. It shows a hand-turned throwing wheel (sometimes referred to as 'great wheel') from the 18th century. I saw this wheel in action, demonstrating this old technique, when David Rooke was the potter there in the 1970s.


The power for the thrower was provided by a young girl or boy turning the large wheel in the foreground. The power is transferred via rope to the thrower at the other end.

To see a definition of throwing click Potbank Dictionary and go to the T page.

This particular throwing wheel in the photograph above is highly significant to Spode enthusiasts as it is actually a Spode wheel - perhaps even used by those two important Spodes: Josiah Spode I, founder of the company, and his son Josiah Spode II. There would have been more than one wheel in use at the factory each with a team of 3.
Hand turned throwing wheel in operation, 1827
To see the whole of the early 19th century book from which the engraving of throwing is taken click A Representation of the Manufacture of Earthenware 1827.

Following the installation of steam power at the Spode factory, from 1802, throwing wheels and other machinery were powered by steam. Although it is likely that some hand powered wheels were still in use hence the survival of this wheel. 'The Universal Magazine' reported in the early 1800s on a visit to the Spode factory. The report includes many fascinating details including: '... there are eight throwing wheels and twenty-five lathes worked by the steam-engine.'
Detail from 'The Universal Magazine' early 1800s

Spode produced a Shape Book, dated 1820, and in it are technical details for the thrower (left page) and turner (right page). For the whole of a Spode 1820 Shape Book (visit Spode Exhibition Online. You can go straight to the manuscript by clicking Spode 1820 Shape Book.
Technical detail of a thrown and turned Herculaneum shape scent jar, 1820
Herculaneum shape scent jar