Dorothy Watson

1888 to 1971

The Bridge Pottery

1921 to 1961
 
The Bridge Pottery at Rolvenden in Kent was owned and run by Dorothy Watson (Dod) The pottery was the last building on the Benenden Road, where a house now stands.

The pottery provided training to students and products included plates, tea services, bowls and jugs, vases, trays and even toast racks.

The weaving loom was later used by Geoffery and Kathleen Watson who ran Fairwarp Weavers at High Halden.

The Four Sisters: Dod's sister Ethel was an artist and a weaver while Grace made preserves and jams. Their elder sister Margaret became famous for Christian murals and paintings in South Africa.

 


The Bridge Pottery mark represents a bridge, see below.

 

 

Here is Dod's own account of her pottery:

The Bridge Pottery

1 9 2 1 - 1 9 6 1

To celebrate the 40th Annual Christmas Sale, 1 propose to give a short account of my pottery from the year 1921 to the present year.

In 1919, disillusioned by the futility and destruction of war, I looked around for a career of a creative nature by which I could earn a living. In reply to an advertisement I found myself an apprentice in a small pottery, and during the next two years I learnt the rudiments of the craft.

In 1921, with a capital of £100, I set up a workshop in a South Kensington Mews. In the Mews next door my sister began her Weaving Industry and we lived together in the improvised flat overhead. I might produce here, but not sell, so after a few months of strenuous work, I sent all my ware to the Devil's Bridge, near Aberystwyth, and set up a roadside stall, attracting the attention of the tourists to this lovely spot, by pedalling a home-made potter's wheel. It was a great success and I only wished I had more to sell. They called it "The Pottery by the Bridge " hence the name which has often puzzled people.

The next four years were busy ones, full of work and pleasure too. The fare to the West End , for instance, was 2d. and seats in a theatre gallery 1/- each! Messrs. Heal and Sons Ltd., of Tottenham Court Road were very kind to me. They sent their horse drawn van to the Mews every Friday afternoon, and the driver helped me to pack all I had made during the week into it.

This success went to my head, and a fire from an overheated kiln which might have proved disastrous, helped to decide me to enlarge my premises. I found three delightful thatched-roofed cottages in a remote Hampshire village, and bought them for a song, with the help of friends. My capital was almost £200 by now! From that day my troubles began. Water came from a well - heating and lighting were by oil - transport was there none. The equipment was home-made and often collapsed. I had to buy a second hand car - it was very second hand, and though I had a staff of five and a traveller on the road, the profits were negligible.

After 10 years of unbelievably hard work (which had its very sunny side) I had had enough of it and sold my lovely cottages. But for innumerable kindnesses of relations and friends we could not have survived. It took me nearly a year to recover from this venture, and then I started to look for premises more suited to my advancing years, and a long search ended in Rolvenden where I arrived in 1935, nearly penniless but happy, because I had found what I wanted-and here we are still. The weaving was taken over by a nephew and his wife after my sister's death, and in this, the Anniversary Year, we have new shapes and new designs to show to our many friends, whom we hope to see on November 25th.

 

 

 

 

© S J Watson 12/02/2018